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How to know your mask is meeting CDC standards

Homemade mask
Posted at 3:32 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 15:32:57-05

With surging COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released updated guidance on what masks people should be wearing.

Health professionals say that some of the masks people have worn over the past two years may not be sufficient against the omicron variant — and some might not even be the real deal.

So, how can people tell if their mask offers sufficient protection?

The first step is making sure it fits.

Dr. Francesca Torriani says while each type of mask protects differently, the most important thing is that regardless of the style, to make sure that it is form-fitting.

"When I breathe in, you can see the mask moving," Torriani said. "When I puff out or breathe out, I don't have any leakage. I don't feel any leakage in any places."

The CDC released updated guidance last week which shows how to check to make sure a mask meets its standards. Besides making sure that it fits, is clean and comfortable, the next step is to hold it up to the light.

"Really looking through and looking at how much light passes," Torriani said. "If no light passes, then at that point, you know that that mask is a better quality mask in terms of filtration."

Health officials say that for disposable masks and respirators like N95s, it is also essential to see where it was made. Information about the manufacturer, model and the standard that the mask meets is on the mask's side corner.

"Some of those produced in the US will say meets ASTM F3502," Torriani said. "[It] meets workplace performance, meets workplace performance plus."

According to the CDC, about 60% of the respirators worn between 2020 and 2021 did not meet those requirements.

Health professionals say that a mask is better than no mask. So whether it is cloth, a disposable procedural mask, or a respirator, make sure it is worn and worn well.

"We can't always control source control. If I am going into a store, I don't know who has been in the store, have they masked adequately? Or have they masked with a mask that is not effective?" Torriani said. "So, I need to give myself more protection by, one, vaccinating, but two, wearing a tight-fitting mask."

Torriani also recommends finding a model that fits you well and purchasing more of that same model. When a mask gets wet, humid, or loses its grip, it is time to switch it out for a new one.

This story was originally published by Sophia Hernandez on Scripps station KGTV in San Diego.