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N-95 masks protect users, but not those around them, say experts

May 31, 2020 05:39 AM
N-95 masks protect users, but not those around them, say experts

Rhythma Kaul

NEW DELHI : People using N-95 masks with respiratory valves may be protecting themselves, but those around them could be at high risk of contracting an infection, according to experts who recommend the use of face covers without valves in a viral outbreak such as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Using N-95 masks with valves is recommended when pollution levels are high because they do not allow carbon dioxide to accumulate inside the face cover, experts said. But the same valve — used for exhalation — could act as an easy passage for germs and endanger those in close proximity if the user has an infection.

“If you’re using N-95 masks, use the ones without a valve,” said GC Khilnani, a member of the Delhi chief minister’s advisory committee on Covid-19 preparedness and the chairman of PSRI Hospital in New Delhi.

While all masks filter the air users are inhaling, the ones without valves also trap most of the germs coming out with exhalation, protecting people around those wearing them.

The Union health ministry has been issuing regular advisories, asking people to avoid wearing N-95 masks, which are used as part of personal protection equipment (PPE) kit for health care and other frontline workers dealing with Covid-19 cases

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