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Surgical mask, N95, KN95 or face covering, how to find your way around? | Coronavirus


The different types of masks

Face coverings

A woman holds a reusable mask in her hands.

A homemade fabric mask

Photo: iStock

The face covering is a type of fabric mask that can be homemade or industrial.

It must be made of a minimum of two layers of tightly woven cotton and if possible an intermediate layer which improves the permeability of the mask. This filter cloth can be made of non-woven polypropylene as stated on the Canadian government websiteHave (New window)Have.

A transparent window can be added to it to communicate with people with hearing problems who read lips.

These reusable masks should be washed after each use. It is advisable to put them in the washer without mixing them with the rest of your clothes, for 30 minutes on a cycle at 60°C.

This type of mask is not regulated, it is less safe. Some models can easily leak air around the edges.

The Government of Quebec website provides the necessary instructions if you want to start making your own face covering.Have (New window)Have.

Surgical masks

A researcher holds a surgical mask in his hands.

A surgical mask

Photo: Riley Brandt/University of Calgary

The surgical mask is a medical grade disposable mask.

The blue face covering protects against the projection of droplets and large particles in the air.

This type of mask does not prevent air leaks at the edges.

Usually single use and disposable, but can be reused until visibly dirty, wet or damaged, specifies the site of the federal government.

Check the presence of the mention ASTM F2100 or EN 14683 on the box, which confirms the respect of the international standards.

N95, KN95, FFP2, etc.

A KN95 mask held by two hands.

A KN95 mask, respirator type

Photo: CBC/Maggie MacPherson

This category of masks is also called respirators.

These are masks designed to filter dangerous particles suspended in the air.

They are designed to perfectly fit the shape of the face and have no air leaks.

These masks are mainly used in the hospital environment, but they represent the best protection against airborne transmission of the virus.

They are generally not available in children’s sizes and do not exist with transparent windows.

Of these three types of masks, it is preferable to favor respirators, which are more effective in filtering particles, or failing that, surgical masks.

How to wear them

It is important to always handle your mask using the elastics. Do not touch the part that covers your face, particles could be there. Also, always wash your hands after touching it.

Always wear a clean, dry, undamaged mask that fully covers your nose, mouth, and chin.

Fit your mask properly to ensure there are no air leaks. Tighten the rubber bands and pinch the flexible bar on the nose.

You can layer several masks to increase the level of protection or to ensure that they fit well on your face.

Always store your mask in a clean paper or cloth bag if you plan to wear it again or before washing it.

Above all, do not use a scarf, bandana, neck warmer or visor instead of a mask.

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