Can Air Conditioner Filters Be Used in Face Masks?
Like over half the country, COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s important to follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) directives to keep yourself and your family safe during these unprecedented times.
One of these directives is the use of personal masks to prevent the spread of the disease from symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. Since HVAC filters are used to filter out unwanted airborne particles in your home, many are wondering if they could be used to prevent the spread of coronavirus as well.
Why Do I Need a Mask?
The Lincon Journal Star created a helpful graphic that illustrates exactly how a mask can help protect you and those around you from the spread of this disease:
COVID-19 is mostly spread from person-to-person contact–that means that you’re more likely to catch it from someone carrying it than any other way. Now, you may be thinking, ‘Sounds easy enough, I’ll just stay away from anyone who looks or sounds sick, right?’
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Carriers of coronavirus can be both symptomatic and asymptomatic: meaning they can show symptoms of the disease, or they could be walking around and appear healthy, but still carry the virus and infect others.
So…Can I Use an Air Filter in My Mask?
HVAC air filters are approved to filter pollen and dust particles, pet dander, and other household particles. Because of this, many homeowners are wondering if an HVAC filter can be used as an insert in homemade cloth masks to double the protection. Filtrete™ the maker of 3M Filtrete™ Air Filters does not suggest the use of HVAC filters in DIY masks as the filters have not been tested or approved for respiratory protection.
Additionally, medical and N95 masks are in short supply and should be saved for medical personnel and those directly working with coronavirus patients. Because the disease is spread through person-to-person contact or droplets from sneezing or coughing, DIY masks made from simple cloth are enough to protect the average American from the spread of coronavirus.
Air filters can and should be used to keep your air supply in your home clean, however, it is not recommended that they are used for respiratory protection without testing on the effectiveness and safety. By following all recommended guidelines for social distancing and wearing personal protective gear you can help keep yourself and others in your community safe.
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