Lunch, homework, water bottle, sunscreen, phone and face mask. One more thing to pack this fall as our children return to school or head out the door for activities in this changed world. As parents & care givers for our children, we should do our best to ensure we understand some basics around the masks we choose for our children’s use. With so many mask options on the market it can be confusing to choose the style that will be most comfortable for them yet provide the safety features that help to protect their health and well-being. We want to help you gain the knowledge to make a good choice!
Proper Sizing: A properly fitting mask should cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly below the chin and fall against the sides of the face without too much gaping or oversizing on the sides. The standard hygienic grade flat mask size for children’s masks are approximately 95mm(3 3/4″) x 145mm(5 3/4″). Children’s hygienic grade masks differ to adults sized masks by the length only, the widths are the same. This child size typically fits children 5 – 12 yrs of age. Of course, the actual fit depends on the child’s face size. All flat mask styles have some open gaps around the face; achieving the best fit minimizes gaps and enhances the masks ability to perform at its highest level and provide the most protection.
Filtration: This refers to the masks capacity to block out small particles. It is the masks filter that provides the most protection against airborne particles from sneezes, coughs and close talking from others. As well, it is the masks filters that help capture germ particles users may have and keeps them from spreading germs to others. Particles that flat hygienic masks help to provide protection against include most germs (viruses, bacteria, fungi/molds & protozoa), pollen, pollution & even smells. All of these particles range in size(diagram 2). Hygienic masks consist of 3- 5 layers of individual materials, 3 layers are the most common and is what Straz Kids Gear uses. Properly designed hygienic masks have outside non-woven fabric layers that are liquid repellent and inside non-woven fabric layers to help absorb moisture from the breath. It is the middle layer that provides the true particle filtration using non-woven meltblown materials. Scientific measurements performed in accredited labs will test sample masks ability to block particles to varying sizes, these particle tests are referred to in short form as BFE & PFE tests. Simply, the test show the particles ability to travel through the masks at different sizes, this is represented as a percentage. An example may be the test result showing that 95% of the particles sized to .1 microns were blocked. Ideally, the higher filtration percentage that is blocked out the better. Anything above 95% with a BFE or PFE rating is of very good quality and meets the basic filter standard for a ASTM Level 1 mask. Health care workers procedural masks are typically 95% BFE/PFE, while surgical masks or health care workers dealing directly with the care of patients with a virus are preferably 98-99% BFE/PFE. The level of filtration used in the construction of a mask should be determined by the intended use of the mask. Typically the higher the filtration level, the more expensive the mask is to produce. Straz Kids Gear ensures its quality masks are made with a minimum of 98% BFE/PFE protection to .1 micron, the size of Coronavirus.
*It is important to exercise caution with the use of civilian manufactured reusable masks that have become popular since the rise of Covid-19. Although these masks provide some basic protection, it is important to understand the filtration levels are rarely lab tested and typically only provide BFE filtration of 15-30% protection against germs and small particles.