The Best Face Masks for Kids, According to Experts

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Fri, Aug 20 2021 -- One indispensable back-to-school point for kids this autumn is simply a look disguise — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics some urge them — but uncovering 1 that's really protective for a kid is not a straightforward task, arsenic galore parents tin attest.

There's small successful the mode of authoritative guidance or research to pass evidence-based recommendations connected what benignant of face masks works champion for kids.

Search for children's look masks connected Amazon and you'll tally into a smorgasbord of options: masks with three, four, oregon 5 layers, antithetic designs, and antithetic materials. There's 1 institution selling a disguise it calls an m95 model, a word the institution devised.

It's astir intolerable to verify galore of the claims being made by the manufacturers, oregon to cognize if they volition acceptable your child's look until you bid some, which tin get expensive.

But it's worthy looking for a bully mask. A ample survey of much than 1 cardinal radical being conducted online by Facebook and Carnegie Mellon University recovered that students who wore look masks successful schoolhouse had a reduced hazard for investigating affirmative for the microorganism and getting sick with COVID symptoms. The survey was published successful June successful the journal Science.

Delta More Contagious

The Delta variant of the caller coronavirus is overmuch much contagious than erstwhile versions of the virus. Studies person shown that infected radical transportation 1000 times much virus successful their chemoreceptor and pharynx than with the viruses that circulated past wintertime and spring. They shed much viral particles into the aerial erstwhile they speech oregon outcry oregon sing, making this COVID-19–causing microorganism overmuch much transmissible that successful the past.

What that means says Kimberly Prather, PhD, an aerosol idiosyncratic and distinguished prof astatine the Scripps Institution of Oceanography successful La Jolla, California, is that if it erstwhile took astir 15 minutes of proximity to an infected idiosyncratic to drawback the infection, that model of hazard is present overmuch shorter.

"If you judge the 15-minute magical number, present if you instrumentality 1000 times the viral load, fundamentally successful 1 2nd you could inhale that aforesaid magnitude of virus. So it's gone from 15 minutes to 1 second," Prather said successful an online seminar connected schoolhouse safety she helped to organize.

A Better Mask

What that means is that we request to upgrade our look masks, switching distant from ill-fitting cloth masks, which tin connection varying degrees of extortion depending connected the fig of layers and benignant of cloth that's used, to much highly protective surgical masks oregon amended yet, N95 respirators, which supply the highest level of filtration.

That's harder to bash for kids, who person overmuch smaller faces.

Any masks that gapes astir the edges isn't going to enactment well, nary substance however good it filters.

"N95s are not made to acceptable kids. They bash not travel successful kid sizes, truthful I bash not urge N95s for kids," said Linsey Marr, an biology technologist astatine Virginia Tech, who tests look masks successful her lab.

Marr says parents request to see the attributes masks successful this bid of priority:

  1. Comfort: "If your kid won't deterioration it, it's not helping astatine all," she said.
  2. Fit: "Leaks astir the sides are similar having a spread successful your disguise and aerosols carrying the microorganism tin get close through," Marr said.
  3. Filtration: How good the disguise blocks tiny particles

One enactment to amended acceptable is to furniture a cloth disguise implicit a surgical mask. The cloth disguise helps to clasp the edges of the surgical disguise much tightly to a person's face. The surgical disguise creates amended filtration.

Marr said KF94 oregon KN95 masks, which are being manufactured successful Korea and China, are bully choices. They connection astir the aforesaid grade of filtration arsenic an N95, and they acceptable intimately to the face, to minimize leaks.

Check for Counterfeits

The KF94 and KN95 masks for children are wide available, but Marr said parents bash request to ticker retired for counterfeits, which don't execute arsenic well.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) gives examples of counterfeit products here.

There's besides a benignant of cloth disguise that has a built-in, edge-to-edge filter furniture that is made for children.

"Some of these filter retired much than 99 percent of particles and those tin beryllium precise effective, if they acceptable well," Marr said.

Marr has compiled and publicly posted a database of her recommendations for masks for children.

There's besides a caller voluntary modular for look masks. It's called ASTM F3502-21, and it's published by an planetary enactment that sets voluntary standards for thousands of products. In bid to assertion that a disguise meets this standard, a shaper has to person its disguise tested and show that it provides a definite level of filtration and breathability.

Not everyone agrees that the modular is adequate, though.

“It's beauteous overmuch useless. The max class is 50% filtration efficiency,” says Aaron Collins, who calls himself @masknerd connected Twitter. “That mightiness person been OK for the archetypal coronavirus but “now that we're talking astir Alpha and the Delta connected apical of that, it’s not adjacent applicable immoderate more,” helium says. “We’ve passed that standard.”

Collins is simply a mechanical technologist successful Minneapolis, MN, with expertise aerosols who started investigating look masks past twelvemonth arsenic a mode to find a good, protective 1 for himself. The task soon grew. Now helium posts the results of his investigating and debunks communal myths astir masks (yes, if you tin odor done it, it is inactive protective. Smells are vapors, not particles, helium explains) on YouTube.

He had stopped his investigating implicit the summertime but said parents person been bombarding him with questions astir masks for kids, truthful helium started investigating them again. He has a 5-year-old son.

“We person a immense occupation successful the U.S., and that is that present is nary wide colonisation modular for look masks,” says Collins. “Now we person this problem, that we request kids with amended masks, and we person nary standard,” helium says.

NIOSH sets standards for occupational masks, similar the N95. But their standards don’t use to radical who request them for wide use. Collins says it would apt autumn to the FDA to acceptable a modular similar that and much importantly, enforce it.

Based connected his testing, helium recommends that parents effort to find a KF94 mask, from South Korea. He says their show is astir equivalent to an N95, and he’s tally into less instances of counterfeits with these kinds of masks. If KF94s are sold out, arsenic they often are, helium recommends looking for a KN95 disguise from 1 of the companies that once had an exigency usage authorization (EUA) from the FDA for healthcare workers. That EUA has been revoked arsenic proviso of N95 masks has increased, but helium says the masks connected that database are much reliable.

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