The Art of Mask

Tips
  • A typical, surgical-type, consumer grade face mask has a front (blue) and back (white), top (hard) and bottom (soft)
  • To prevent a mask from slipping down the face, press the top of the mask (which feels like a length of wire) down on the bridge of the nose to form a V shape which will grip the nose bridge.
  • Check the mask has no gaps on the top and sides of mask. Research indicates that even a small gap significantly increases the bug's chances of getting through.
  • Avoid masks with an exhale valve. The valve may make exhaling easier but could potentially let the bug out unfiltered. Valved masks are intended for industrial and anti-pollution use, not public health.

Quality
  • We have noticed issues with some batches of masks we sampled lately (in the course of acquiring them for everyday use).
  • In particular, they failed the tear test: the middle layer tore like paper with clean edges. Melt down polypropylene should tear with some difficult and result in jagged, fibrous edges.
  • Melt down polypropylene is essential because it uses static electricity to trap the bug, not merely pore size. If the pore size is to be small enough to trap the bug, it would be hard to engineer and breathe through. Thus, ingeniously, proper masks are designed to rely on both pore size (fibre gaps) and static electricity. This is why the simple looking mask is hard to make: health grade melt down polypropylene is not easy to come by.
  • Masks we bought from KK (a local grocery chain) passed this test. Currently, a pack of 50 is priced at around MYR 40 (USD 10) with a list price of around MYR 60 (the new ceiling price).

Notes
  • The above information is for your further research only and is not health, technical, consumer or purchasing advice.
  • The post image is of iMASC, an affordable, reusable N95 mask created by MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
  • Check out our updated post on face mask startups here.