It's a bit less sketchy than the media reports, but still I find the following to be dubious:
Face coverings will be a requirement for employees at Boeing sites in Washington. Employees are strongly encouraged to bring in their own procedural mask or face covering; those who do not have a mask available will be provided with one.
I assume "procedural mask" is lawyer speak for a mask manufactured to medical/industrial standards, whereas "face covering" is just a piece of cloth to cover the face, either home made or factory made. My mom has sewn dozens of masks for friends and family. I have one. I know it's better than nothing, but it's also not guaranteed in any way, nor tested in any way, so no one can say if it's doing anything at all. I do know since it's cotton it will collect bacteria like crazy once my breathing makes it wet, so I only wear it when I know I'll be close to other people (grocery store etc) and I immediately wash it when I get home.
It is disappointing that Boeing are treating these as equivalents when they certainly are not. One gives a known amount of protection. The other IMO is largely a placebo giving the illusion of protection.
Also the "procedural masks" have limits on their usefulness. They are designed to be used at most for a work shift and then disposed. Normally they are used for one patient examination or surgery and are disposed. A lot of people are trying to work out a way to sterilize them after use, but aren't that successful because the product simply was not designed for re-use.
I would also point out that there is a big difference between a N95 mask - which is a respirator that seals reasonably well to the face, a Surgical Mask, a disposable medical mask that is common, and some other cloth mask.
Thank you for your detailed post. I may preempt a bit by saying I see the source of confusion. The people I'm working with in the maker community refer to "N95 respirator" to describe what you just called "N95 mask" and use "N95 mask" to describe the surgical mask you're describing. I think this is the same usage that JayInKitsap
is using below.
People in our community have had a lot of success making plastic face shields and are really trying to get to the point of making "N95 masks". One big problem is as you say they cannot be sewn because of through holes and industrial grade sealing equipment is needed to get an acceptable product. That's a challenge since many don't have access to high grade sealers so are trying to make low grade home sealers work. A few are trying "N95 respirators" but making the filtering elements are a real challenge. It's hard to make ones that are effective yet pass enough air so the wearer can breathe.
A N95 mask is a disposable respirator which can be fit tested to show that it seals reasonably well against the face. Strap on Silicone rubber, rubber, etc half or full face masks that have replaceable filters are much better (and then you get into positive pressure air supplied respirators which are better yet).
The common disposable medical mask that you are given at the Clinic or a hospital - and what many nurses and other staff wear, has no specific particle filtration or fluid ratings. They have passed no tests. They meet no standards. Yet, decades of medical history do show that they make a difference.
Cloth masks will work worse than the common disposable medical mask. But, still may make a difference.
I doubt that Boeing can get actual Surgical Masks. All the dental and Medical supply companies are either sold out or only accepting new clients if they are a Dental/Medical facility or can supply a medical license number. I know - I tried to buy a box for my personal use (I did find one on Amazon for I am sure about 4X its normal price). That should allow me to return to work in a week or two when I get it (I'm only now starting to feel a lot better - it's been 7 weeks of what I assume is Covid-19; but, I never got sick enough to be tested).
The solution seems to be simple: don't bring your employees back to work till you can know they will be safe.
If you're the CEO, don't say things like "PPE are readily available" when all of us know they are not and you are asking employees to bring their own "face coverings" to work instead of providing actual protective equipment.
Thank you and others for the info on health insurance and workman's comp. I hope the employees realize there are limits to what the employers and the government can do for them or their families if they get sick or if they die.
Industrial and Construction masks are NIOSH regulated, with the N95 mask being quite common, Home Depot carries them normally by the bin full, but are totally out of stock for months. Back in March the FDA posted that NIOSH masks may be substituted without restriction as they have the same efficiency.https://www.homedepot.com/p/3M-N95-Pain
FDA regulates medical masks, the masks worn by staff in most surgeries without evidence of an infectious disease is the N95 mask which is the ones with the ear loops and pre Covid cost in hospital sized bulk orders less than $0.10 each.
There are other ear loop masks that don't have the needle pierced membrane that ensures the 95% of 0.3 micron particles captured. Respirators are required where the lack of edge seal on the mask could cause contamination.https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/per
Air Filters for most surgical suites are ASHRAE 52.2 MERV14 with prefiltering at MERV8, MERV14 remove 75% of <1.0 micron, 90% of 1.0 to 3.0 micron, and 95% of > 3.0 micron particles. Aseptic spaces and clean rooms use prefilter with MERV8 and MERV14 and then a HEPA filter which is 99.97% of 0.3 micron and larger particles.
Thank you also for the information. As I wrote above, in my community we use "N95 mask" for cloth mask, "N95 respirator" for the snug face fitting device described in the earlier post.
And if you want to enter our maker space facility, each individual will need board of director permission to enter (yes, really!) and you will have to be wearing a N95 respirator. Forget about any kind of cloth mask, professional or home made, the people in our community who do this stuff for a living say it is not safe enough.
Last edited by Revelation
on Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.