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The #MaskUp 101

July 12, 2020
23 min read

UPDATED: November 30, 2020

Masks are not only essential to keeping you and your community safe from corona virus they are in vogue. The latest forecast from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that 33,000 deaths could be avoided if 95 percent of people wore masks in public. Even if you live in a community where few people wear masks, you would still reduce your own chances of catching the virus by wearing 3-layer mask or 3D printed respirator.

Masks that are designed with 3-layers of fabric with tighter the weaves are more effective than . Another study10 found that masks with layers of different materials — such as cotton, silk, Eucalyptus Lyocell — could catch aerosols more efficiently than those made from a single material.

We are calling on community leaders, activists, influencers, celebrities, show runners and cultural creators to help us model how to save lives by sporting a 3-Layer (3L) or 3D Printed (3D) respirator mask and social distancing. The scientific community needs your help in creating a movement that supports using masks. Recent studies suggest that they will cut down the chances of both transmitting and catching the coronavirus and 2 studies hint that masks might reduce the severity of infection if people do contract the disease.

The Design Corps researchers, producers and designers continue to conduct research and publish research findings that inform personal protective equipment design and usability. The following #MaskUp 101 sections serve as a living document designed as a public service informing all constituents about the public health benefits of mask usage.

There are many types of mask, worn in a variety of environments. Studies have compared various mask materials, but for the general public, the most important consideration may be comfort. The best mask is one you can wear comfortably and consistently. N95 respirators are only necessary in medical situations such as intubation. Surgical masks are generally more protective than cloth masks, and some people find them lighter and more comfortable to wear. N-95, KN-95, and surgical masks are in short supply, and should be saved for health workers, educators, and essential workers on the frontlines. 

The bottom line is that any mask that covers the nose and mouth will be of benefit. Read more at https://www.everymaskup.com/

Understanding The Lexicon & Language

This list of new terms has been elected to inform your masking selection, usage and advocacy.

  • Face Mask: A face mask is personal protective equipment designed to protect your from respiratory illnesses caused by pollution, bacteria and viruses.
  • 3L Mask: 3-Layer Masks that uses tightly woven breathe-able materials to deliver up to 79% filtration.
  • 3D Respirator Mask: A 3D printed respirator mask designed to protect you from injury or the spread of infection or illness. Respirator-style masks typically have four parts, the respirator shell, filter frame, filter material, and strapping. Some respirators have provisions in their design for a flexible gasket that provides additional comfort and a better seal to the face.
  • Face Mask Filters: Face mask filters are used to filter out particles, irritants and viruses. Not all filters are the same. The Design Corps' recommends the usage of non-toxic MERV-13 filters.
  • MERV: Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV reports a filter's ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm).
  • HEPA is a type of pleated mechanical air filter. It is an acronym for high efficiency particulate air
  • PM2.5: The term fine particles, or particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width. Like inches, meters and miles, a micron is a unit of measurement for distance. There are about 25,000 microns in an inch. The widths of the larger particles in the PM2.5 size range would be about thirty times smaller than that of a human hair. The smaller particles are so small that several thousand of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence.
  • Ear Loops: Ear loops are cloth or elastic material on a mask that loop behind the ear to ensure the face mask stays in place over your nose and mouth. Some ear loops come with adjustable cord stoppers to improve fit.
  • Ear Savers: Ear savers are a face mask accessory that reduces ear distress and irritation offering a proper fit for users. Most fit at the back of the head and can be worn over or under human hair.
  • Eucalyptus Lyocell: Eucalyptus as a material is known as Tencel Lyocell. It is made from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. Thanks to a partnership with Sheets & Giggles our Breathe 3-Layer (3L) masks use Eucalyptus Lyocell materials made out of wood, which is turned into a pulp via a closed-loop lyocell process before that pulp is turned into yarn. The best part about Sheets & Giggles Lyocell is that nearly 100% of the solvents from each batch are reused in the next, so there's almost zero waste.

Mask Fitting & Selection Criteria 

Not all masks are made the same. While any face covering is better than none, there are 5 important features you should consider when purchasing a mask:

  1. Mask Supply: Essential professionals still face personal protective shortages across the globe. This is more acute in the Black, LatinX, Indigenous and impoverished communities. N95, Surgical and Medical Masks should be reserved for essential professionals who are serving their communities and have medical waste disposal procedures. e.g. Healthcare, Agriculture and Food Service, Transportation and Educators. 
  2. Mask Fit: Masks and face coverings should be designed to fit snugly over your mouth and nose. To get the best fit, take measurements from the bridge of your nose to the bottom tip of your chin. The mask should eliminate air gaps and offer a seal. When masks are combined with Ear Savers they enable people to adjust the fit behind the ears with a tighter seal for longer comfort.
  3. Mask Filtration: For 3-Layer sewn masks, look for masks with 3-Layers of tightly woven materials. If you can see through the mask it does not offer enough protection. 3-Layers of materials like 100% Cotton and 100% Eucalyptus Lyocell provide up to 75% filtration. When combined with a pocket for MERV-13 or PM2.5 Filter, the filtration increases (see 3-layer testing below). For 3D Printed respirator masks like the Breathe3D mask that use antimicrobial filaments and MERV-13 and above Filters can provide up to 95% filtration when properly fitted. 
  4. Mask Reusability & Sustainability: According to the world economic forum: Coronavirus waste has become a new form of pollution as single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) floods our ocean. Disposable medical masks are creating dangerous medical wastes in our communities on land and in waterways and oceans. Reusable masks made of 100% Cotton, Eucalyptus Lyocell and Antimicrobial filaments provide a sustainable solution to reduce the dangerous medical pollution.
  5. Mask Comfort: Masks should offer breathability. 100% cotton and Eucalyptus Lyocell provide breathability and comfort in active environments. Rounded elastic, Ear Saves and Headbands with buttons reduce ear chafing. If you have dry skin, it's best to put on moisturizer before wearing a mask. This can help prevent skin irritation from where the mask rubs your face. If you have oily skin, you may want to avoid wearing a liquid foundation as that can clog your pores and cause your skin to break out. Not to mention, the foundation can also rub off on your mask, leading to decreased air filtration, making it harder to breathe.

Mask Usability: Designing Healthy Habits

When it comes to everyday use, a 3-Layer sewn or Breathe3D face mask is recommended. By not using surgical masks and N95 respirators, you help preserve those resources for health care professionals. We know practice makes perfect. Here are 10 behaviors, when repeated daily for 6 weeks will turn into new healthy habits.

  1. 2+ MaskUp: Masks should be worn by all humans ages 2 years and older. Face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  2. Eliminate Touch: Never Touch the outside of the mask while it is on your face. If you do wash hands and sanitize reusable masks.
  3. Not A chin guard: Do not wear your mask around your chin exposing your mouth and nose. Masks should stay on your face fitted over your mouth and nose.
  4. Don’t Share Your Mask: Masks are for personal hygiene and should not be shared.
  5. Stop Mask Dangle: Masks should not dangle or appear loose around your ears.  Ear Savers help deliver a comfortable fit of mask 3-Layer or Breathe3D Respirator Masks.
  6. Stop PPE Pollution: Disposable N95 and medical masks are made for 1 time usage in medical environments that have proper medical waste disposal systems. Use reusable, rewash-able face masks that aim to reduce PPE Pollution.
  7. Proper Mask Storage: Masks should be stored in a clean, dry space. Masks should not be stored in a purse or a pocket without a protective case or bag encasing your mask.
  8. Masking Up: Before placing a mask on your face, first clean your hands with soap and water or with a hand sanitizer, then using ear loops place secure the mask over your nose, fitted at the tip or just below the tip of your chin. The mask should snuggly cover your nose and mouth. Once your mask is on your face, wash your hands and do not touch the outside of the mask.
  9. Mask Removal: When removing the mask, first clean your hands with soap and water or with a hand sanitizer, then remove your mask.  After removing your mask, wash or sanitize your hands again.
  10. Sustainable Reusable Masks: Sustainable masks will save us from a new mutated pandemic. Gently, wash your mask daily and replace your filters often!

100M Mask Mayday Studio Program Published Research

The following research was used to inform the 100M Mask Mayday Studio Program Design Requirements:

2 and 3-Layer Mask Testing & Filtration

Properly fitted masks made with 3 layers of 600+ thread count of 100% Cotton and or Eucalyptus Lyocell can offer up to approximately 74-79% filtration. See the test results below.

Read More about Mask Testing at MaskFAQs | The Design Corps only certifies 3-layered masks for sale at MaskUp.DesignedByUs.org.

Visualizing the effectiveness of face masks in obstructing respiratory jets

Infectious respiratory illnesses can exact a heavy socio-economic toll on the most vulnerable members of our society, as has become evident from the current COVID-19 pandemic.1,2 The disease has overwhelmed healthcare infrastructure worldwide,3 and its high contagion rate and relatively long incubation period4,5 have made it difficult to trace and isolate infected individuals. Current estimates indicate that about 35% of infected individuals do not display overt symptoms6 and may contribute to the significant spread of the disease without their knowledge. In an effort to contain the unabated community spread of the disease, public health officials have recommended the implementation of various preventative measures, including social-distancing and the use of face masks in public settings.7

While detailed quantitative measurements are necessary for the comprehensive characterization of PPE, qualitative visualizations can be invaluable for rapid iteration in early design stages, as well as for demonstrating the proper use of such equipment. Thus, one of the aims of this Letter is to describe a simple setup for visualization experiments, which can be assembled using easily available materials. 

Download the Full Report

Disposable Mask Usage & Pollution

‘A new type of pollution’: Covid-19 waste ending up in world’s oceans

The promotion of mask wearing as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19 has led to an extraordinary increase in the production of disposable masks: the UN trade body, UNCTAD, estimates that global sales will total some $166 billion this year, up from around $800 million in 2019.

It is expected that 75% of the used disposable masks, as well as other pandemic-related waste, will end up in landfills, or floating in the seas. Aside from the environmental damage, the financial cost, in areas such as tourism and fisheries, is estimated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at around $40 billion. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that, if the large increase in medical waste, much of it made from environmentally harmful single-use plastics, is not managed soundly, uncontrolled dumping could result. 

The potential consequences, says UNEP, which has produced a series of factsheets on the subject, include public health risks from infected used masks, and the open burning or uncontrolled incineration of masks, leading to the release of toxins in the environment, and to secondary transmission of diseases to humans.

KN95 Masks & Efficacy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has removed its Emergency Use Authorization for several KN95 masks, which are made in China, after they failed to meet a minimum particulate filtration efficiency of 95% in National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health testing. Some KN95 masks that initially were authorized failed subsequent National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health testing and cannot be relied upon as respirators. These include masks manufactured by:

• CTT Co. Ltd.
• Daddybaby Co. Ltd.
• Dongguan Xianda Medical Equipment Co. Ltd.
• Guangdong Fei Fan Mstar Technology Ltd.
• Guangdong Nuokang Medical Technology Co. Ltd.
• Huizhou Huinuo Technology Co. Ltd.
• Lanshan Shendun Technology Co.

For a full list of personal protective equipment authorized for emergency use by the FDA, go to the agency's Emergency Use Authorizations webpage.

See Research References Below.

100M Mask Mayday Requirements Made Real

The Design Corps' couture masks & 3D Printed PPE have used the research above to inform the invention and design of sustainable PPE like 3-Layer couture masks and Essential3D Products which include Breathe3D masks, Shield3D face shields, Filter3D MERV-13 Filters, Goggle3D eye protection and EarSave3D Ear savers.

3-Layer Couture Masks: Fashionably chic masks designed with 3-layers of protection made with 100% cotton and Sheets & Giggles Eucalyptus Lyocell.

Essential3D Products: a brand of 3D printed products invented and produced by the DesignedByUs.org Design Corps to solve PPE shortages across the globe.

Breathe3D Masks: The Breathe3D mask is a 3D Printed mask designed to protect you from injury or the spread of infection or illness.  The Breathe3D mask is made with FDA-compliant, ISO-certified, Antibacterial 3D Printing Filaments and hospital grade, reusable, washable MERV-13 filters.  When fitted to your face, the Breathe3D mask achieves approximately 95% filtration. Read Breathe3D Mask Care & Usability Instructions.

Shield3D Face Shields A 3D printed face shield designed to be worn with 3-Layer or Breathe3D Respirator Masks.

Essential3D Face Shields: This face shield can be used for infection control in the U.S.  Designed using CDC requirements which include a polycarbonate visor or shield that has chin and crown protection and curves around the face, reaching to the ear to prevent splashes from reaching the eyes, nose, or mouth. All face shields are designed to be worn with 3-Layer or Breathe3D Respirator Masks.

Filter3D MERV-13 Filters: 2.5 inch x 2.5 inch squares of AiRx Health filters that trap and lock ultra fine particles that effect your health. 

Essential3D Goggles: 3D printed protective goggles.

Essential3D Ear Savers: Ear savers are mask accessories that reduce tugging and chaffing ear distress. Ear savers make your mask more comfortable to wear and function as a new fashion accessory that you can mix and match with your masks.  Wearing Ear Savers makes it easy to wear your reusable mask all day.

How To Use A Mask with Essential3D Ear Savers

100M Mask Mayday Studio Program Links


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Masks are not only essential they are in vogue. Influencers, community leaders, sheros, heros and theroes are modeling how to save lives. The #MaskUp101 outlines the public health benefits of mask usage. #DesignCorps #MaskUp via @https://www.pinterest.com/jpenabickley/

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