Some thoughts on Cotton masks.

Hello all, 

As one of the co-founders of commUNITY masks I get a lot of questions about masks and how effective they are in preventing the spread of Covid-19. So I decided to blog about it to help you understand the reasons we should all be wearing masks when we are out and about. And also how commUNITY masks conform to all these guidelines.

I want to provide facts. Directly from their source, with no editorializing. And know this, non-medical masks are not perfect. But they can be very effective. So here we go.

Here is a link to Health Canada guidelines for cloth face covering.

A few key points from this are:

1. Masks should be made of 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric such as cotton or linen.

2. Allow for easy breathing.

3. Some commercially available masks have exhalation valves that make the mask more breathable for the person wearing it, but these valves also allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask.

Masks with exhalation valves are not recommended, because they don't protect others from COVID-19 and don't limit the spread of the virus.

(bolding by Health Canada, not me)

4. Some masks also include a pocket to accommodate a paper towel or disposable coffee filter, for increased benefit.

So just to be clear, all commUNITY masks conform to all Health Canada guidelines. But let's talk a bit about each of the above points.

Importantly, our masks are 2 layers of 100% Quilters Choice cotton. Tightly woven and due to the nature of cotton, also highly breathable.

We have heard a lot about masks that have the exhalation valves. Well Health Canada specifically says they don't protect others. Isn't that the whole point of wearing a mask? Your mask protects me, my mask protects you. Simple.

All our masks also have a space for a filter. Use your own if you have them, but we also offer a non-woven polypropylene filter.  Our filters are made of the same material used in N95 surgical masks. We sell them in packs of 10 and they are reusable and washable just like our masks. Put the filter in the mask and wash the whole thing together!

Here is a link to an article from the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine discussing various filtration materials and their efficacy. It is a bit wordy but essentially it says that non-woven polypropylene is a very effective material in filtering airborne particles while still allowing the user to breathe.

Here is a link to an article in the Lancet that discusses a WHO funded study that shows how effective wearing masks can be in preventing the spread of Covid-19.  Here is the most salient point of that study: "These data also suggest that wearing face masks protects people (both health-care workers and the general public) against infection by these coronaviruses."

Ok that's enough from me. Stay safe. Wear a mask.

Colin