Airborne Virus And Masks: Is It Effective?

📅 September 30, 2021

1. What is an airborne virus?

          1.1. Airborne virus examples

2. Is Covid an airborne virus?

3. How are airborne viruses transmitted?

          3.1. How far can airborne viruses travel?

4. How effective are face masks against airborne viruses?

          4.1. Best face masks to wear against an airborne virus

5. What other measures to avoid airborne viruses?

6. Concluding remarks

The propagation of viruses relies heavily on airborne transmission via droplets and aerosols. Therefore, face masks are a tried-and-true preventative strategy against them. We cover all you need to know about airborne viruses and how effective face masks are against them in this article.

What is an airborne virus?

Viruses that are spread by tiny respiratory droplets are known as airborne viruses. When a person with the airborne disease sneezes, coughs, laughs, or exhales in any way, these droplets are ejected.

A virus that is transferred through the air is more easily distributed and may be more challenging to control than viruses spread through other means.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Airborne virus examples

Here are a few examples of airborne diseases known today:

• Common cold
• Coronavirus
• Measles
• Tuberculosis (TB)
• Influenza
• Chickenpox

Is Covid an airborne virus?

Yes, Covid-19 transmission can be airborne. However, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, is known to transmit between individuals in a variety of ways.

When an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings, or breathes, the virus spreads in minute liquid particles from their mouth or nose. Larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols are among the particles.

The virus is transmitted primarily amongst persons who are in close proximity to one another, generally within 1 meter.

When virus-containing aerosols or droplets are breathed or come into direct contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth, a person can get infected.

The illness can also spread in cramped or poorly ventilated interior environments, where people spend more extended amounts of time. This is due to the fact that aerosols remain suspended in the air or move above 1 meter. 

How are airborne viruses transmitted?

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

This virus is tiny enough to get aerosolized. Coughing, sneezing, breathing, and talking are all ways an infected person might spread them.

A vulnerable individual who has not developed immunity to the virus or has a weaker immune system will be more prone to contract the virus.

Some airborne viruses can survive for an hour or two on surfaces after they have left the body. Infections can then be spread when you touch the surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands.

Most airborne viruses are relatively unstable after they leave their host’s body. However, the significance of contaminated bodily fluid droplets in transmission cannot be overstated, and measures to avoid infection via this route are essential.

Additionally, the smaller the particle, the further it may go via the respiratory tract. The type of organism and the circumstances of the air, such as humidity and temperature, determine how long these organisms can live outside the body.

How far can airborne viruses travel?

The velocity with which germs are discharged from a person is influenced by various factors such as air current and warmth.

Some airborne viruses move large distances within buildings via air conditioning systems, which is unexpected.

Moreover, germs from a cough or sneeze may travel a considerable distance very fast, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) and accelerating in seconds.

Indoor airborne viruses may travel at the speed of an exotic sports vehicle, posing a severe health risk. A single cough, for example, expels roughly 3,000 droplets that travel at 50 mph (80 km/h) out of the mouth.

How effective are face masks against airborne viruses?

Photo by Kay Lau on Unsplash

Face masks protect individuals in two ways. The first method is source management, which reduces respiratory virus emission and transmission through airborne droplets and aerosols. Secondly, it gives the wearer protection, which reduces respiratory virus inhalation.

In addition, researchers discovered that wearing a mask reduced the amount of virus blown into the air by more than twofold. Therefore, if the majority of individuals in the community wear even basic surgical masks, the chances of coming into contact with a virus particle are much lower.

Best face masks to wear against an airborne virus

There are different types of face masks you can wear to protect yourself against airborne transmitted diseases. You can choose to wear either disposable face masks or reusable ones. Disposable face masks come in two types which are surgical masks and the N95 mask.

We would recommend using reusable face masks as they are more environmentally friendly and are washable. This means you can use it more than once, which also makes it a more budget-friendly option.

Additionally, reusable face masks are customisable, which means you can buy ones in a design that best suits you. You can also try out ProXMask’s face masks, which are made with an antiviral fabric that gives you more protection against the virus.

What other measures to avoid airborne viruses?

While wearing a face mask is efficient to fight these airborne diseases, you can also take other precautions:

Practice good hygiene : As explained earlier, these illnesses can linger on surfaces, so wash your hands diligently when you come in contact with contaminated surfaces. You can also use a hand sanitiser if there is no available wash area around you.

Get vaccinated : Vaccines have played a critical role in lowering the number of illnesses and fatalities caused by these viruses. Getting vaccinated is the greatest method to protect yourself or others.

Have good ventilation : Maintaining your home’s ventilation system or installing specific filters can also decrease the spread of sickness.

Concluding remarks

Wearing face masks is essential to fighting the spread of these airborne viruses. So play your part and always remember to wear one whenever you leave your house.

REVIEWED BY

Yii Change Bong

Medical Officer, Proxmask

Dr Yii Change Bong is an occupational health doctor with demonstrated experience working with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia.

Having worked as a Medical Officer in Hospital Umum Sarawak and Sarawak General Hospital, Kuching for more than 5 years, he holds a strong presence in the fields of occupational health services, medical surveillance, and also in providing medical education.

In 2020 Dr Bong was the COVID-19 taskforce PPE liaison as the person in charge of personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers in the hospital during the early stages of the pandemic.

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