The initial stages of the pandemic have put us all in a big daze as the whole world seemed to stop as we knew it. With masks and medical supplies falling short in the first year, it made many of us people go in search of alternatives.
The majority of the people opted for homemade masks when they couldn’t get their hands on the N95 masks and other surgical-grade masks. Although wearing any mask is better than going mask-free, it made us wonder if wearing just a cloth mask would be enough to protect ourselves against COVID-19.
Then came the idea of placing filters used in the air conditioners in between the cloth mask’s layers. But before acting on it, one must be able to differentiate the types of filters available in the market.
Types of Filters
There are three main types of filters made from different materials that are primarily used in HVACs.
- Fiberglass Filters
- Pleated Cotton Filters
- HEPA Filters
Just as the name mentions, these filters are made up of thin filaments of glass that are spun closely together to form a filter. It allows the air to pass through very easily and effectively stops any particulate matter that might pass through the air.
These filters have a rating of 3-4 on the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) Scale.
Pleated Cotton Filters
These filters are made up of cotton, which is pleated closely to form a filter. These filters offer efficient air filtration. They also can produce static electricity.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters (HEPA) are not specific to a single material. The variety of materials used in HEPA filters includes fiberglass and plastic filters. The strands are closely weaved together to provide efficient air filtration.
HEPA filters have a rating of 13 to 16 on the MERV scale. These filters can remove 99.97% of particulate matter from the air that’s filtered through them.
Which Material Filters Are Best For Face Masks?
Although these filters can be included in face masks, the safest of all would be pleated cotton filters. At the same time, the most efficient would be the HEPA filters.
Won’t Filters Cause Shedding?
Although HVAC filters cause shedding, the amount of shedding they cause is considerably lesser than the average level deemed harmful by the WHO. Even the shedding caused by fiberglass filters is not exactly dangerous, as told by WHO.
So Are HVAC Filters in Face Masks Safe?
If you are not wearing the filter by itself as a mask and are only using it as a layer in between the layers of cloth used in mask making, it is considered safe.
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