Which face masks is best?
A Definitive Guide to Evaluating Face Masks
The benefits and effectiveness of DNA masks when compared to other handmade and medical grade masks.
COVID-19 and Face Masks
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, face masks traditionally seen in the medical sector are becoming increasingly commonplace across the community.
The vast majority of masks sold in the United States are of the N95 variety, and there is of course a good reason for this. They are certified by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They also remove 95% of all airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns or larger.
N95 masks are designated as single-use only. They should be discarded after exposure to pathogens or contamination from liquids such as blood and sputum.
The CDC has recommended that N95 masks only be used multiple times in an emergency. Due to major shortages of these masks, the CDC have also prioritized their allocation to those who are at the highest risk of becoming infected.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has created a situation where there is an almost constant state of emergency. Supplies of most PPE continue to run low and many are finding it difficult to protect themselves and their families.
Where does this leave frontline health professionals and ordinary citizens who cannot get access to effective masks?
Many are covering their faces with handmade versions made from materials found in the home, which has been shown to help decrease the spread from a contaminated person to the next, but it does not offer a high level of protection for the person wearing it.
Next-generation Personal Protective Equipment
DNA Masks are handmade, reusable face masks with a 98.5% Particulate Filtering Efficiency (PFE) rating. In other words, these are premium face masks that have been tested and shown to outperform standard N95 masks in particle filtration efficiency which have a PFE rating of 95%.
Let’s look at DNA masks and detail their effectiveness as COVID-19 protection compared to other handmade options.
Enhanced Protection against Viruses and Bacteria
DNA Masks have an exceptionally high PFE rating. This puts DNA masks ahead of other handmade masks, face coverings, and most respirators.
DNA Masks achieve this rating through a tri-laminate filter, comprising three layers of spunbond and meltblown polypropylene. Their filtration system incorporates the same already used in N95 masks – which is reasonably effective in its own right and when fit tested properly to the wearer.
But DNA masks went several steps further building on this already effective system, adding two additional layers of filtration and protection.
How have they achieved this?
The filter on DNA-made masks is concealed between two layers. The outer layer is a water and blood repellent outer layer, tested for resistance to penetration at the highest pressure of 160mmHg (polyester). The inner layer is made from polycotton to absorb moisture from sweating, sneezing and coughing.
Other types of handmade masks are often made of old scarves or bandanas. At best, they might be made from the tightly-woven cotton found in old quilts. In any case, these handmade masks do not offer the PFE rating that DNA masks do.
Furthermore, the best materials for handmade masks are often not that common. They may also be impractical to fashion into masks and be uncomfortable to wear. One US study into the efficacy of 400 home-made masks showed that vacuum cleaner bags and heavyweight cotton offered the most protection against coronavirus.
But considering the large range of samples and designs, the best PFE rating the study could come up with was a mere 79% - well below the 98.5% PFE rating of DNA masks. Alarmingly, some handmade masks in the study registered a rating of just 1%. Which would you rather wear?
Authorized for use by the FDA
Rest assured that DNA Masks have been authorized by the FDA under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for frontline healthcare workers.
There are several factors that grants government, hospitals, and the general public access to DNA Masks:
● Sealing of the mask around the nose and upper cheeks with an aluminum strip. This allows the wearer to shape the mask to the contours of their face and provide better protection against infection.
● Bottom elastic which goes under the chin, further enhancing the seal around the face.
● The successful passing of standardized tests of blood penetration resistance - verified by third party Intertek. This allows DNA masks to protect against high-velocity streams of body fluid that result from sneezing, coughing and blood spatter.
● They have also passed flammability testing as Class 1. This makes DNA products perfect for frontline workers in oxygen-rich environments such as operating rooms.
Importantly, DNA Masks protect the wearer from transmitting COVID-19 and from becoming infected themselves.
Other handmade masks which have not gone through a rigorous authorization process only protect the wearer from infecting someone else. And even then, their effectiveness is questionable.
DNA masks are washable, reusable, and economical
One of the major advantages of DNA Masks lies in their ability to be washed and reused multiple times. Combining the high PFE rating of surgical face masks with the reusability of less-protective handmade masks, DNA Masks provide the best of both worlds.
Indeed, DNA masks only require a hot water machine wash before they are good to go. They are not subject to the emergency sterilization procedures that have resulted from the shortage of N95 masks, although they can be safely autoclaved too.
Of course, their reusability is only important if they are economical to buy in the first place. Happily, DNA Masks satisfy this requirement too. Most of their range will only set you back in the order of $10-20. This enables them to be a realistic alternative to cheaper (yet much less effective) handmade masks.
Comfort and Protection
DNA Masks state that even the best masks worn incorrectly leave you at risk of infection. Clearly no-one ever sets out to deliberately wear a mask incorrectly, so why are masks worn the wrong way?
Comfort, or a lack thereof, is often the primary cause. The mask may be too tight, causing the wearer to constantly move it around and disturb the seal around the face.
Conversely, it may be too loose and hanging forward as they bend over. It might itch in certain places and cause the wearer to reach under the mask and touch their face without thinking. The result is the same in all cases – the integrity of the seal and thus the mask becomes compromised.
Handmade masks that are made at home will often be poorly fitting. This is to be expected, as not everyone is skilled at sewing. Nevertheless, it still leaves the wearer at risk.
DNA Masks, on the other hand, are a blend of high-quality workmanship and comfort. The inner layer of their masks is made from polycotton that absorbs moisture from your breath and increases comfort in the process. Furthermore, those who wear glasses that continually fog up will benefit from the mask's ability to absorb moisture. Aside from the great natural seal around the face, DNA Masks and More offers double-sided hypoallergenic tape that specifically enhances the seal around the nose to reduce foggy glasses.
Traditional handmade masks invariably feature straps that loop around the back of the ears. But with prolonged use, the ears become very sore. Fortunately, DNA Masks have come up with the ideal solution here too. Instead of just ear straps, their masks feature an added head strap. DNA Masks VP, Viviane Dean, noted that “when worn correctly, it was designed with comfort in mind, to relieve pressure from the back of your ears”.
DNA masks have unique, durable, and customizable designs
The design of DNA masks is very much unique, with four features currently patent-pending. One particular mask which deserves special mention is their washable surgical face masks with detachable face shield.
For an extra snug fit, they come with adjustable ties. In addition to the 98.5% PFE rating, there is also eye and forehead protection in the form of a face shield. The shield itself snaps on and off and like the mask, it can be cleaned and reused.
They are also American made and sourced from American materials. Many reviewers have commented on their comfort and the quality and durability of the elastic loop stitching.
The masks themselves also come in a range of unique designs. They offer custom logo prints that are perfect for businesses who desire a more stylish PPE that is an extension of their brand.
Perhaps most importantly, DNA masks are made for men, women, and children.
While this may seem an insignificant fact, consider that many children may be too young to comprehend the global pandemic. They may also simply not enjoy wearing face masks. But instead of trying to explain the pandemic or social distancing, why not encourage them to wear a mask specifically designed for them? A DNA mask with a cool design would certainly be an easier sell than convincing them to wear a vacuum cleaner bag, for example!
DNA Masks are the only handmade masks that you should be using to protect yourself, your family and your friends and co-workers.
Their extremely high PFE rating of 98.5% speaks for itself, but there are other qualities of DNA Masks that make them a far superior option.
In the current climate of chronic PPE shortages, the reusability and thus economy of DNA Masks is crucial. The company offers realistically-priced medical-grade masks that can be thrown in the washing machine and used again.
Their long list of features makes them a more comfortable option than less professionally constructed masks. Like it or not, people will not wear masks that they don’t find comfortable. And even if they do, they won’t wear them properly.
DNA also put utility, business sense, and fun into their products. Their masks are suitable for a wide range of scenarios in the home or workplace, and their designs encourage family protection and participation in the fight against COVID-19.
- Viviane Dean, CRNA, ARNP