Not all masks are created equal

Pictured above is a children’s mask with the Proposition 65 Warning label on the back. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people consider wearing cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The CDC recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in the same household, especially when social distancing measures are challenging to maintain.

Although cloth face coverings are not a substitute for N95 masks worn by health care workers, they can help minimize the spread of the virus.

According to the CDC, cloth face coverings are more likely to reduce the coronavirus spread when people in public settings widely use them; however, it’s not a substitute for social distancing.

The cloth face coverings are a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people. As reported by the CDC, the recommendations come from what is known about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus along with emerging evidence from clinical laboratory studies that show cloth face coverings reduce the spray and spread of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

While face coverings are strongly encouraged by the CDC, they also recognize there are specific instances when wearing a cloth face covering may not be feasible for those instances adaptations and alternatives should be considered whenever possible.

With a wide variety of individuals tapping into the “mask” production, it’s essential to understand that not all masks are made equal, and not all fabrics make for an effective cover.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, some fabric options are better at filtering virus particles than others, while others hardly do the job.

When purchasing a mask, take into consideration the FDA does not issue any certification to demonstrate a manufacturer complies with the FDA’s requirements.

Although some states have stricter guidelines and require products to have a Proposition 65 warning, not every state shares the same sentiments. The marlins or labels inform buyers about their exposure to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

It’s recommended by the FDA to read all labels if any are available before purchasing.

According to Alabama Public Health and the CDC, cloth face coverings should not be worn by children under the age of two or those unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Adaptations and alternatives should be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a cloth face covering or to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading if it’s not possible to wear one.

The following are examples provided by the CDC:

• Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or those who care for or interact with a hearing impaired may be unable to wear cloth face coverings if they rely on lipreading to communicate. In this situation, consider using a clear face covering. If a clear face covering isn’t available, consider whether you can use written communication closed captioning or decrease background noise to make communication possible while wearing a cloth face covering that blocks your lips.

• Some individuals with developmental disabilities, sensory integration concerns or tactile sensitivities, certain mental health conditions or limited cognitive ability may have a negative reaction to wearing a cloth face covering. These individuals may consult with their healthcare provider as part of the decision to wear a cloth face covering.

• Younger children of preschool or early elementary age may be unable to wear a cloth face-covering properly, particularly for an extended period of time. Wearing a cloth face covering may be prioritized when it is challenging to maintain a distance of six feet from others. Ensuring proper cloth face-covering size and fit and providing children with frequent reminders and education on the importance and adequate wear of cloth face coverings may help address these issues.

For additional information, visit www.fda.gov, www.cdc.gov or www.alabamapublichealth.gov.

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