How to buy the best disposable face mask, according to experts

We consulted medical experts on the efficacy of disposable face masks and how they compare with other face masks.

Since the coronavirus was first declared a pandemic back in early March, the market quickly became flooded with a variety of face masks. From a range of colors and styles that let wearers reflect their personalities, communities are filled with people rocking different designs. But personal aesthetics isn’t the only option that consumers have when it comes to protective face masks — they come in two major categories: disposable face masks and reusable face masks. Is one safer than the other? And what’s the best disposable mask out there? To find out, we asked medical experts what to know before buying your next batch of masks. But before we dive into disposable masks and how to find the best ones, one thing is clear: Any face mask is better than no mask, according to all the experts we consulted. Those same experts also all agreed that medical-grade disposable face masks aren’t recommended for the general public unless they’re in a high-risk category — our sources emphasized that medical grade face masks should instead be reserved for frontline healthcare workers.

SKIP AHEAD Medical experts explain everything you need to know about disposable face masks

“Next to social distancing, face masking is without question the most effective mechanism to prevent transmission of virus,” said MarkAlain Déry, DO, MPH, an epidemiologist and medical director for infectious diseases at Access Health Louisiana. “Upwards of 40 percent of individuals that are infected with Covid-19 are asymptomatic and unaware of their status, making them more likely to transmit the virus.”

Yet, there are some who aren’t convinced that wearing masks in public is necessary. “Some people believe that since masks are not 100-percent protective, they have little value,” said Ellen Turner, MD, an infectious diseases physician and adjunct professor at Drexel University College of Medicine. Although disposable face masks aren’t sealed, and therefore droplets can make it out of the side or gaps from the top or bottom when someone coughs or sneezes, those particles aren’t as potent as those from someone without a mask.

“The mask interrupts the velocity or speed of the droplets, so they do not travel as far or as long in the air,” explained Karen Jubanyik, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and co-author of “Beat the Coronavirus.”

Post time: Sep-13-2021