States Are Banning This One Type of Face Mask
Stop and think before adding a mask with a valve to your cart.
By this point in the coronavirus pandemic, seeing people walking through parks, doing their grocery shopping, and picking up coffee in masks or cloth face coverings has been normalized. What may be more difficult to get acclimated to is wearing one, since you're likely not used to having your nose and mouth covered when you're outside or out in public. As the weather gets warmer and it becomes more apparent that we'll be wearing masks for safety for the foreseeable future, you may be tempted to purchase one with a valve, which is designed to make breathing easer. But before you add that face mask with a valve to your cart, consider that it may already be banned in your state—or at least parts of it.
There are N95 face masks on the market with one-way valves that release your expelled air through a filter. While they may be more comfortable and less restrictive than masks without a valve, they are also useless in preventing the COVID-19 spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends covering your nose and mouth in order to protect yourself from infection but also to protect others from coming into contact with your respiratory droplets. If your mask doesn't restrict the path of your own exhalations, you're still putting other people in danger, even if you have no symptoms. Keep in mind that many carriers of the disease are asymptomatic but still contagious.
Because of this, parts of California and Colorado, including many public venues and attractions, have banned face masks with valves, as reported by Forbes. Impacted areas include several state packs, national forests, and state beaches.
In early May, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) tweeted a message that, in no uncertain terms, disavows these masks as a coronavirus precaution. In fact, the SFDPH says that these masks may actually promote spread.
Still seeing a lot of these masks out there, it's confusing, because they are called N95- but the ones with the **valves** or openings on the front are NOT safe, and may actually propel your germs further!! @SFFDPIO @SFPD @sfgov @LondonBreed @MyrPressOffice https://t.co/xHxNy28EUz
— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) May 4, 2020
Per Fast Company, N95 masks with valves are meant to serve an industrial purpose. They're intended to prevent people in factories and other places where the air is compromised from breathing in dust and other toxins and can be found in hardware stores. They aren't used in a healthcare setting for the very reasons stated above. They don't protect anyone around you.
Forbes predicts that the face mask with valve ban will extend to other areas. But whether or not your state enacts this rule, you're much better off wearing a mask without one. A valve defeats the purpose of covering your face, as appealing as breathing easier may sound right now. For a safer tip, check out This Simple Trick Will Make Your Face Mask More Comfortable.