Preventing the inhalation of smog or the flu virus; the apparent protection of the surgical mask

You may have already seen the images on TV. Major cities where people wear a surgical mask on the street in an attempt to protect themselves from inhaling smog or a virus. Our respiratory protection specialist Jan Willem de Winter explains why that’s false protection.

Not designed to protect the wearer against air contamination or a virus

Surgical masks offer good protection, provided that they’re used for their intended purpose. After all, they are not designed to protect the wearer against air contamination or an airborne virus. The paper masks are intended to prevent a surgeon from infecting the patient, through small droplets of saliva, for example, but also to prevent blood, wound discharge or saliva from passing from the patient’s to the doctor’s or dentist’s mouth.

Using a mask for respiratory protection? Use a mask bearing the CE mark.

Surgical masks are simply hygiene masks and are not a reliable form of respiratory protection. If you want to use a mask for respiratory protection, it is important to use regulated masks bearing the CE mark. The choice of mask depends on the type of protection required. Is the aim of the mask to protect against particulate matter, viruses, gases or vapours, and what types? The exposure level and the duration of the exposure are also determining factors. The person on the photo above is therefore not protected against inhaling smog (combination of particulate matter and gases) or the flu virus.

Want to know more?

If you want to find out what respiratory protection is the best solution for your situation, give us a call on +31 (0)88 130 6030 or use the contact form below.


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