Flu Masks & Germ Masks

Wearing a mask can help reduce the transmission of airborne germs*, which is the primary means of flu transmission. The Breathe Healthy mask, in particular, is especially suited to be effective in helping to prevent flu transmission.The Center for Disease Control states that one of the primary means of flu contamination occurs from droplets that are generated when infected persons cough or sneeze and secondly by contamination of the things we touch. One of the primary purposes of any mask is to defend against airborne effluents. All types of masks offer various degrees of effectiveness, but all masks are certainly not all the same, both in fit and function. The Breathe Healthy mask, due to its comfort and fit, is an easier mask to wear for longer periods of time, and does not require a very specific fit process. This makes it a more effective mask than a typical paper disposable mask (face mask or “barrier” mask, and respirators). Due to the discomfort that they cause and lack of sufficient “wearability”, it is unrealistic to expect people wearing disposable paper masks wear them, in properly adjusted fashion, for any length of time. Also, the exclusive antimicrobial properties of the Breathe Healthy mask’s inner lining are a desirable property to have while handling the masks in environments where flu viruses may exist.On Oct. 28th, 2008, results of a new study (www.news-medical.net) by the University of Michigan (the study is called M-Flu) on 1,000 students during the flu season, concluded that mask use and alcohol-based hand sanitizers helped reduce flu-like illness rates from 10-50% over the study period. They concluded that mask and hand hygiene may be effective for preventing a range of respiratory illnesses. Further, the researchers say in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as hand washing and masks may be as critical as pharmaceutical interventions.

Should a pandemic flu event occur, wearing a mask… any mask … is recommended over not wearing one. The CDC has also issued an advisement regarding the use of a “hand-made” 4-layer fabric mask to provide emergency viral protection. To reiterate, all partial face masks should be considered a “First Line of Defense” and not an assured means of protection. Equally important to mask consideration is infection that can occur from germs on your hands when touching your lips, inner nose or the corners of your eyes. Breathe Healthy, nor any manufacturer, should not claim that their partial face mask will fully protect you from the flu or transmission of viruses or bacteria (germs). There are simply too many variables including face shape, facial hair, movement, talking, adjusting, fit, flu mutation, viral size, viral form of transmission, etc. Obviously, this does not apply to full face respirators, or medical devices worn by First Responders/Hazmat personnel.

Surgical masks appear to be as effective against flu transmission as N95 respirators – and Breathe Healthy masks outperform surgical masks. See the flu mask study.

*The word “Germ” is a generic term used to refer to any undesirable microorganism or virus (flu virus, mold, bacteria, etc.) that we would not want to enter our respiratory system. The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary defines a germ as 1. A small mass of protoplasm or cells from which a new organism or one of its parts may develop. 2. A microorganism, especially a pathogen.