Time to upgrade your kids' masks as they return to school; here's why
Upgrading the masks of children is all the more important once they start attending physical classes as they would suddenly be exposed to germs and all sorts of pathogens and microbes.
As children in Delhi return to schools starting from Monday (February 14) and the school reopening gathers steam across the country in the wake of declining Covid-19 cases, it is important to ensure the little ones' safety as they look forward to return to normalcy.
Upgrading the masks of children is all the more important once they start attending physical classes as they would suddenly be exposed to germs and all sorts of pathogens and microbes, say experts. They should also be educated in following social distancing norms as they resume schools.
"For the past two years, our kids have been shuttered inside their homes, in sterile environments, which may have significantly reduced their chances of being exposed to coronavirus. But what we may not have considered is that this isolation may have lowered their natural immunity and antibodies and made them more susceptible to other illnesses due to lack of exposure to pathogens/microbes! Now, with schools reopening, our kids will be back to classrooms, which are breeding grounds for germs, especially due to the lack of ventilation," says Jai Dhar Gupta, Founder & CEO of Nirvana Being and Founding Member of citizen’s movement ‘My Right to Breathe’.
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He says N95 FFP2 masks are the best for kids as they are very effective against Covid as well as other viruses. This claim has been substantiated by a study published by the Max Planck Institute, which says that well-fitting FFP2 masks reduce the risk of infection with COVID-19 to 0.1%.
"N95 FFP2 masks for kids that are well-fitted, breathable, reusable and washable and those that come in fun designs for children are advised," says Gupta.
How to choose the right mask for children
When it comes to finding a good N95 mask for kids, the key is to focus on the following:
Filtration: N95 Masks which offer high viral filtration efficiency (96%) and particulate filtration efficiency instil confidence in mask wearers.
Fit: Pick a mask that comes in multiple sizes, with an adjustable noseband and ear loops to ensure a snug fit.
Comfort: A breathable and comfortable mask ensures that kids can breathe in and out with ease while wearing the N95 mask, which means that keeping the mask on for an entire day would no longer be a challenge.
Design: Opt for a mask company that offers fun N95 mask designs for your kids so they want to keep their masks on for longer periods of time.
Sustainability: As long as COVID-19 is around, you should buy an N95 mask which is reusable and washable so as to last you for 5-6 months.
Certifications: A less tested mask is a less trusted mask. Always ask for relevant test reports and certifications before you buy a mask so you can send your kids to school with confidence and peace of mind.
Why surgical masks or cloth masks might not offer enough protection
In case of 3-Ply & Surgical Mask (Non-Certified), the melt-blown polymer placed inside these masks is supposed to act as a filter that stops microbes from entering or exiting the masks. However, the edges of 3-ply and surgical masks do not form a tight seal around your nose or mouth, which thereby allows viruses and aerosol to enter your air passage, upon inhaling. In short, these masks do not offer filtration on inhaled air! Moreover, they are not certified to provide any sort of protection," says Gupta.
"According to the C.D.C.’s new description of masks, loosely woven cloth masks provide the least protection as they do not offer any filtration on the inhale. One study found that the filtration efficiencies of cloth masks varied massively from as low as 1.4 per cent to 98 per cent," he adds.
In case of N95 Medical or disposable mask, the electrostatic charge on these masks dissipates within 8 hours, after which the masks lose their filtration efficacy. This mask is only recommended for health and front line workers.
"N95 FFP2 mask is the best bet for your kids during these uncertain times. While traditional N95 masks only filter down to 0.3 microns with a 95 per cent efficacy, a new class of masks has recently emerged using nanofiber filters that has 95 per cent filtration efficacy down to 0.1 microns. Not only are these safe, but also offer the best value for money, since they are washable and reusable," says Gupta.