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Make sure your mask fits to keep safe from COVID Delta

Confirmation that the COVID-19 Delta variant spreads mainly by aerosol transmission makes it vital for people to wear facemasks that fit well and stop particles.

Lanaco chief of technology Dr Shaun Tan says mask-wearing has become mandatory in public situations, because of the way COVID 19’s Delta variant spreads.

“The rapid movement of aerosols through the air is the main cause of transmission.”

So, he says, it’s important people use masks that actually protect them from aerosol particles. He has made a video to help people understand what the masks need to do.

The mask material needs to be good at capturing virus particles (filtration), breathing in and out should go through the filters (fit), and it should be comfortable to wear (breathability), he says.

Hopsitals and industrial settings use “fit tests” with particle generators to ensure they are wearing proper PPE. Scores range from 200 (the best) to 100 (a pass) down to 0 (no protection). Showing four different masks – a blue surgical type mask, a cloth mask, and two masks made by Lanaco, Brezy and Waire – Shaun tests the masks on the video.

The Waire mask is P2 or N95, offering good protection. A correctly-fitting mask with decent filter material, such as the Brezy in the test, allows it to score well, and thus provide sufficient protection from aerosols. The blue mask and the cotton masks both received the zero rating at the first test as their fit was not secure, showing that there isn’t real protection offered from aerosol transmission.

The surgical mask is ok for source control, Shaun says – it stops most of a person’s cough or sneeze affecting others, and is still recommended to be worn if there were no better masks available. But it doesn’t stop the mask wearer being affected by aerosols in the environment.

Based in Auckland, Lanaco is the only New Zealand-located and owned manufacturer of filters and masks for both pandemic supplies and general front-line health worker supplies, having been certified to global medical quality standards. Lanaco is also unique as it uses innovative technology to use New Zealand grown wool in their filters.

Lanaco Managing Director Nick Davenport says Lanaco is a great example of Kiwi innovation, using highly sustainable wool from our hard-working New Zealand wool farmers, developing a world beating product, the Helix filter is the world’s most breathable, natural fibre-based filter media.

“It just happens to be here at exactly the right time , as Delta is transmitted by the finest exhaled aerosol particles, ” he says.

Nick Davenport says that some Lanaco’s masks have been uniquely developed to fit the diverse face shapes of New Zealanders, through trials with the Auckland and Waikato DHBs.

“This capability to design a product around the unique and diverse needs of our workforce and indigenous populations gives NZ an advantage most countries do not have,” he says.

Lanaco is supplying NASA with filters to go to space in. It also supplied the very successful New Zealand Olympic team with facemasks as the team navigated a challenging situation in Japan with Covid 19.


The video of Shaun Tan testing the masks is available on https://vimeo.com/594448696

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