What are the different materials used to produce surgical masks?

The surgical mask has long been a hospital staple. Healthcare workers use surgical masks as protection for several health-related incidents and emergencies. With the on-going pandemic, the surgical mask becomes a worldwide household staple. The surgical mask is capable of protecting the masses from the virus. Along with the N95 mask, the surgical mask is now a public health commodity. Aside from hospitals, more and more people use the surgical mask. This is because the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using the surgical mask as an alternative to the nearly-depleting supply of the N95 mask.

As a public health commodity, the surgical mask plays an integral role in protecting people. Along with this idea is the overall knowledge behind the creation of the surgical mask. The materials, for example, can give people the idea of how significant the surgical mask is in the field of public health. 

The Creation of Surgical Mask

The surgical mask is a 3-ply mask. Therefore, the surgical mask comprises three different layers. These layers will keep the people safe from any virus or bacterium.

The first and third layers of the surgical mask are what people see as the blue and white part. The first part of the surgical mask comes in a variety of colors. But these colors do not make so much difference to the surgical mask. Both the first and last layers of the surgical mask are made mostly from polypropylene, which is a non-woven fabric. Polypropylene makes the surgical mask water-proof.

The second layer of the surgical mask is made from a melt-blown fabric, which is also a non-woven fabric. This melt-blown fabric is a converted polymer made into filaments. Under a microscope, the second layer of the surgical mask resembles a pile of sticks that form a barrier with tiny holes. These tiny holes are significant because they prevent viruses and bacteria from successfully penetrating the body.

Secure the right fit on the surgical mask, a nose wire is one of the two things that hold the mask in place. The nose wire of the surgical mask is made from either aluminum or plastic. The second thing that holds the surgical mask in place is the elastic band. There are two elastic bands that are tied to the edges of the surgical mask. These elastic bands are either round or flat.

There are other surgical masks that use ribbons that attach to the edges. These ribbons from other surgical masks will help the wearers achieve their desired fit.

These materials constitute the entirety of the surgical mask. To reduce manual labor and to pace up the production of the surgical masks, machines are doing the job mostly. Before the operation, the manufacturer must follow the protocols and the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Do the materials from the surgical mask induce any irritation?

The materials used in making the surgical mask do not contribute to any form of irritation. Polypropylene is a safe material. In addition, the materials are properly sanitized before production. Any claim that certifies the surgical mask as a contributor to irritation is not true. Most likely, irritation happens depending on how the surgical mask is used.

How does a surgical mask work?

As mentioned, the surgical mask is a 3-ply mask. Therefore, the protection process of the surgical mask goes in three ways. The first layer of the surgical mask protects the wearer from outside organisms. Since it is made from non-woven fabric, some particles remain on the outer surface of the surgical mask. The second layer of the surgical mask does the filtration job mostly. More particles are being trapped in this part of the surgical mask. The third and last layer of the surgical mask filters the particles from the inside, protecting the people from the outside. This function from the last layer makes the surgical mask a two-way mask.

As far as filtration, the common disposable surgical mask can filter particles with an efficiency ranging from 70 – 80%. Although the surgical mask is not as efficient as the N95 mask, the mask can still protect anyone who wears it.                                                                                                                                

Can everyone wear the surgical mask?

Not everyone can wear a surgical mask. The surgical mask is a one-size fit all mask. Therefore, children age 2 and below are not allowed to wear surgical masks. The mask can cover their entire face and wearing masks can make their breathing difficulties. Most likely, adults and teenagers can wear surgical masks.

On the other hand, the CDC recommends the public to resort to wearing alternatives of the surgical mask. This is because the surgical mask is now experiencing scarcity. The supply of the mask is nearly depleting, like the N95 mask. As a way of preserving the remaining supply, the CDC recommends the public to wear cloth masks. In this way, the supply of the surgical mask goes to the front liners. These are the people who get the first-hand experience from covid-patients or any covid-related incidents.

By knowing the anatomy of the surgical mask, gives people the idea of how the mask will protect them. Wearing surgical masks in public is an effective defense that people should consider doing. The mask has been protecting healthcare workers even before the pandemic. It is no doubt that the mask can protect everyone. 

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