Coronavirus has become a global pandemic, and no one knows when this will end. You can only hope to prevent this virus with proper precaution. Different techniques are used like hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, social distancing, and use of anti-virus face masks.

The use of face masks is one of the most common strategies to fight against COVID-19. The major health organization including WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Center for Disease Control) now recommend the use of face coverings by the general public to protect yourself and others from coronavirus, where it is not possible to social distance. 

This has led an exponential growth in the market for reusable face masks, often made with common textile materials such as cotton and polyester.  As the market as matured, a new trend has emerged – the growth of reusable face masks with “anti virus” features.  What are these and how do we know whether they are effective?

A face mask that claims to be anti virus would must have laboratory tests made that prove its efficacy.  Further, the results of these laboratory tests must also have been verified to an international standard by an independent third party. 

Polygiene’s ViralOff technology is seen as one the leading innovators behind the antiviral face mask movement.  ViralOff is a chemical treatment that can be applied on the fabrics used in face masks.  The ViralOff treatment then ensure that the fabric of the mask is certified to kill 99% of viruses that come in contact with the fabric.

ViralOff follows the ISO standard ISO18184:2019, where a series of lab test on viruses is conducted, on coming in contact with textile treated with ViralOff, which is a chemical treatment based on silver chloride, manufactured safely in the EU.  The tests show that the ViralOff treatment is effective in killing several types of viruses such as H3N2, H1N1 (influenza causing viruses), by 99% within 2 hours.  Most recently, ViralOff has been tested on SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus), the virus that causes COVID-19, and has been confirmed to be effective as well. 

What are Other Important Features of a Face-Mask, Outside of Anti-Virus Technology?

The anti-virus chemical treatment cannot fully guarantee that the overall face mask is effective against viruses.  There are several other important factors at play, which determine the overall performance of reusable face masks.   

Filtration Rate

The face mask is only as effective as the amount of viral particles that can be captured on the surface of the mask.  Even if a face mask has the anti virus chemical treatment, if it is made of a fabric such as cotton, tiny microscopic viral particles can still pass through the fabric of the mask to the user.  The anti virus treatment can only work on the viruses that are filtered by the mask.  Hence, the filtration % of the mask is arguably of equal importance. 

Facemaks with high filtration % usually add additional layers and/or removable filters made of nonwoven fibrous material including polypropylene, a paper of fiberglass, and wool felt.  These materials help provide a surface to capture harmful substances.

The particle size of coronavirus can be as small as 0.1 microns, so an effective face mask should also have conducted laboratory tests on the filtration performance of the mask at different micron sizes.  Look for Nelson Lab certified laboratory tests on the filtration % of filters used by the mask. 

Fit and Comfort

It is important that the mask is properly fitted and comfortable.  A proper fit ensure that the mask does not allow excess air into the user, while also maintaining adequate breathability.  Hence, a mask is more likley to fit properly if there is a range of sizes that conforms to difference profiles and sizes of faces. 

For a proper fit, a sturdy and strong nose wire is important to ensure that the top of the mask is air tight.  It also prevents an user’s glasses from fogging up. 

The mask should be made from an inner layer that is very comfortable to the skin, as an irritating material will cause the user to constantly move the mask and refrain the user from maintaining the proper fit for prolonged periods. 

Adjustability

It is important for the mask to be easily adjustable.  This can be done by the use of adjusters on the tension of the earloops so that the user can make a tighter fit as and when desired. 

Conclusion

Anti-virus face mask is a relatively new phenomenon that involves applying a chemical treatment on the fabric of the mask, enabling it to reduce 99% of viruses that come into contact with the fabric itself.  Polygiene’s ViralOff is a leader in the field of antiviral treatments and has certified laboratory tests to back up and prove its claims of efficacy. 

However, not all masks, even with the same ViralOff treatment applied, is manufacturered to the same standard, so there are other important factors to consider in addition to the usage of ViralOff technology.  These include filtration %, fit and comfort, and adjustability.