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How to know your mask is meeting CDC standards

Homemade mask
Posted at 4:40 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 08:56:19-05

With surging COVID cases, the CDC has released updated guidance on what masks we should be wearing.

Health professionals tell ABC 10News that some of the masks we have been wearing over the past two years may not be sufficient against the Omicron variant. Some might not even be the real deal.

So the big question is, how do you know that yours is the right one?

The first step is making sure it fits.

Dr. Francesca Torriani showcases her KN-95 respirator. The CDC says that is the best option for filtration and protection.

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

"When I breathe in, you can see the mask moving," she demonstrates. "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 your mask to make sure it meets standards. Besides making sure that it fits, is clean and comfortable, the next step is to hold it up to the light.

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Torriani explains: "Really looking through and looking at how much light passes. 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 for disposable masks and respirators, like N-95's, it is also essential to see where it is made. The information of either the manufacturer, model, and/or the standard it meets is on the mask's side corner.

"Some of those produced in the US will say meets ASTM F3502," explains Dr. Torriani. She furthers. "[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. So like 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?" explains Dr. Torriani. "So I need to give myself more protection by one vaccinating, but two, wearing a tight-fitting mask."

Dr. Torriani also recommends that if you have a model that fits you well, you should purchase more of that same model. And the moment that mask gets wet, humid, or loses its grip, it is time to switch it out for a new one.