Fardy Facts: Facemask facts
Hi, I’m Sarah Fardy, your Surf Coast resident scientist!
I recently started FARDY-FACTS.com.au, an online, interactive space to ask science questions and get evidence-based answers – relieving worries and concerns during the COVID-19 info-demic.
Is wearing face masks going to be our new normal? It might be, it might not be, only time will tell.
Let’s get into the FACTS about face masks!
Who needs them? What are the differences between masks and how to make sure we are using them safely?
In Australia right now, our potential to be exposed to coronavirus is quite low. So, compared to other countries with higher disease rates, who are recommending their citizens wear face masks in public, we aren’t facing the same risks.
Following the WHO guidelines, if you are healthy, you only need to wear a face mask if you are taking care of someone who is COVID-19 positive.
You also need to wear a mask if you are coughing, have a fever or are having difficulty breathing.
Masks are only effective when used in combination with proper hand sanitisation with an alcohol-based sanitiser or soapy water.
If you wear a mask, you also need to know how to dispose of it safely.
P2 masks are single-use only. Once the filter is moist, it’s donesky. After use, the must be thrown in a bin. They cannot be re-used.
PM2.5/N95 masks can be used for 5-7 days. The internal carbon filter can be replaced. Never touch the outside of this mask. Only touch the straps and sanitize your hand before and after removing it.
Homemade masks DO NOT PROTECT YOU from infectious diseases, they CAN, however, protect OTHERS from infection IF YOU ARE COUGHING and are infected. They need to be treated as single-use masks. But instead of disposing in the bin, you can wash them after every use with your laundry.
Homemade masks can be pimped out with nylon stockings to increase infectious disease filtration, but those studies are still ongoing.
The industrial masks are unnecessary. But if you are a doomsday prepper – I’m with you in spirit and you can never be too prepared!
Finally, only ever touch outside straps, remove from the back, and sanitise your hands before and after wearing your mask.
Links and details of where to find all of these masks, including how to make your own, are up on my website at fardy-facts.com.au.