Although at first glance they look more sophisticated, valve masks are a public health risk and have been banned in various states.

The mask they have become an object of first necessity.

Despite the fact that at the beginning of the pandemic the World Health Organization (WHO) was reluctant to recommend masks as part of prevention measures, the scientific evidence of their effectiveness in reducing infections places them at the same level as washing hands and social distancing.

Although it seems obvious, the main function of wearing masks is not to prevent healthy people from inhaling the virus, but prevent droplets from COVID-19 patients (especially the asymptomatic) get expelled when breathing, coughing or sneezing.

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From this principle, the idea behind the massive use of face masks in public space is limiting virus particles to curb infections. Hence, in different latitudes it is a requirement to enter supermarkets, public transport, offices and other closed spaces.

The universalization of these measures has brought with it a range of both homemade and commercial face masks that vary in design, comfort and the protection that they offer to the user and their environment.

And although the WHO has recommended a minimum of layers, the ideal materials to filter the particles and even instructions on how to wash them, there is a model of face mask that does not fulfill its purpose and has been banned by airlines, amusement parks and different regions of the world. world because of their ineffectiveness: masks with valves

Why are valve masks not recommended?

mask with valvePhoto: . images

At first glance, the masks FFP2 or FFP3 with valves (or similar inspired by these models) seem more sophisticated than the rest: not only are they wider than the N95, but they also have a valve on the side than in theory, works to let heat escape and reduce humidity when used for long periods of time.

However, the characteristic that makes them more comfortable is the same that limits their effectiveness in preventing infections. According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

“The purpose of the masks is to prevent respiratory droplets from reaching other people, to help control sources of infection. However, masks with vents or one-way valves allow air to exhale through a hole in the material, which can cause the respiratory droplets produced to reach other people ”.

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The CDC does not recommend its use, stating that “this type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.”

However, this institution is not the only one that has spoken out to advise against the use of masks with valves. These masks have also been banned in different autonomous communities of Spain, in addition to the state of California.

In recent weeks, some airlines, supermarkets and companies of all kinds have also prohibited the entry of people with FFP2, FFFP3 or similar with a valve, as their massive use can cause a greater sense of false protection against COVID-19.

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