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Frequently Asked Questions
1. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE UNITY MASK AND THE LA PROTECTS MASK?
The Unity Mask was designed overnight by our team at Pocket Square Clothing with these criteria in mind to offer the best possible protection and effectiveness against blocking virus sized particles:
- A mask shape that will create the best fit and coverage for most faces
- An adjustable nose wire to help seal airflow gaps
- An insertable filter pocket that would add extra protection, such as a DIY HEPA filter cut-out
- Made from 100% tightly woven cotton to allow for the best comfort, protection, rewashability, and reusability
The LA Protects Mask was developed by Kaiser Permanente for the City of Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti in their initiative to organize local manufacturers to produce 5 million masks in a matter of weeks. The current design is a basic 100% heavy weight cotton mask that is economical and affordable for all. It is comparable to a surgical mask, but does not include a nose wire or insertable filter.
2. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS I CAN PURCHASE OR DONATE?
Unity Masks: Purchase HERE
- Single Unity Mask ($15): You are buying 1 personal mask for yourself. 10 color/pattern options are available.
- Buy 1, Donate 1 ($22): You are buying 1 mask for yourself and 1 mask that we will donate to a front liner on your behalf. 10 color/pattern options are available.
- Donate 1 Unity Mask ($15): You are buying 1 mask that we will donate to a front liner on your behalf. Colors/Patterns will be chosen on your behalf.
LA Protects Masks: Purchase HERE
- Pack of 5 ($30): You are buying one 5 pack of masks for yourself. You may choose from Black or White color options
- Donate Pack of 5 ($30): You are buying one 5 pack of masks that we will donate to front liners on your behalf. Colors/Patterns will vary.
- Pack of 250 ($1250): You are buying one 250 pack of masks for yourself. You may choose from Black or White color options
- Donate Pack of 250 ($1250): You are buying one 250 pack of masks that we will donate to front liners on your behalf. Colors/Patterns will vary.
3. HOW DO I USE THE MASK?
- Wash your hands before and after you use your mask. Please continue to refrain from touching your mask or face while it’s on.
- Make sure there’s a snug fit and seal off any airflow gaps with the adjustable nose* (Adjustable Nose On Unity Mask Only*). Put the mask over your mouth and nose, and pull the straps over your ears. The mask is cut generously to cover your nose and cheeks. It's recommended to use tape or double-sided tape to secure the mask to your nose and cheeks to seal off any additional gaps.
- Insert a filter for extra protection* (Unity Mask Only*). Studies suggest HEPA grade filters (i.e. HVAC filters made from polyester. Do not use HEPA filters made with fiber glass) and vacuum cleaner bags have the highest effectiveness in blocking virus-sized particles. Extra layers of fabric or paper materials such as coffee filters can add additional filtration when those are not readily available. Ensure air can flow through both the mask and filter.
- Wash and re-use your mask. It's recommended to dispose of your filter and wash your mask after each use. Wash the mask in hot water with detergent or at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and dry hot. White fabrics are safe to use bleach. Store in separate bags.
4. CAN THIS REPLACE A MEDICAL GRADE MASK SUCH AS A SURGICAL MASK OR N95 MASK?
No. These are for personal use and are not medical grade masks or FDA approved. They are not meant to replace N95, surgical, or procedural masks. Please leave disposable medical-grade masks to our at-risk health care professionals who are experiencing a shortage and desperately need them. Our cotton masks are personal protective wear to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 through droplet transmission. These masks can be worn over medical grade masks to help lengthen their effective lifespan. Remember that this mask is not a substitute to social distancing. Refer to the latest advice of the CDC and healthcare professionals for best practices on keeping yourself safe.
5. HOW EFFECTIVE ARE CLOTH-BASED MASKS? WHAT IS THE BEST MATERIAL?
Studies show that wearing any type of mask will help to decrease exposure to and spread of viruses (the widespread use of masks during the 2003 SARS epidemic significantly reduced transmission). But cloth-based masks alone are not as effective at capturing virus-sized particles as a disposable medical-grade mask (i.e. N95 mask that can block up to 95% of virus sized particles). You will need to add a filter with high efficiency ratings such as HEPA grade filter to increase the effectiveness of your ask. Cloth-based masks with a built in filter pocket such as our Unity Masks are the recommended choice.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge conducted a study of face masks found that tightly woven cotton, such as quilting cotton, is the best material for making cloth-based face masks, based on their ability to capture particles yet remain breathable, and that they perform comparably to surgical-grade masks. (SmartAirFilters.com) A double layer of cotton had anywhere between 60-90% efficiency at capturing virus sized particles. Research data also suggests that synthetics and polyesters are not recommended because they are less effective due to their ability to retain virus particles longer.
6. WHAT IS THE BEST FILTER MATERIAL TO USE?
HEPA Grade Filters, such as those used in HVACs or vacuum bags, are the best filters to use and are a gold standard for cloth-based masks. A study conducted by NASA found that HEPA filters were able to filter out up to 99.97% of virus sized particles. It's important to look for HEPA filters that are made of polyester or polypropylene material, and not made from fiber glass or shed high amounts of fiber or synthetic material that may cause respiratory diseases. We also recommend standard vacuum cleaner bags, AC filters, and air purifier filters. A University of Cambridge study found that vacuum cleaner bags were nearly as effective as medical-grade surgical masks. Look for filters with a rating of MERV 13 or higher, FPR 9/10, or MPR 1500 or higher (The higher the number, the better). If those are not available, the CDC is also recommending using coffee filters, paper, or additional layers of fabric. It's important to note that many of these filters are not FDA approved to be re-purposed to be used in face masks.
7. WHERE CAN I BUY FILTER MATERIAL?
Many of these filters are available for purchase at your local hardware store, but we do recommend to purchase online for delivery.
8. HOW DO I MAKE A FILTER AND INSERT IT INTO THE MASK?
Find or purchase your filter material, then use our filter template to trace out and cut the filter to fit into the mask. Open the mask from the back to reveal the filter pocket and insert it into the mask. Make sure that the filter fits edge to edge inside the mask. Trim if needed. Remember to remove after each use and dispose of the filter.
9. CAN I RE-USE THE FILTER?
No, filters should only be used once and cannot be washed. A used filter always carries the risk that is contaminated and should be thrown away.
10. HOW DO I MAKE MY OWN?
11. HOW DO I DONATE?
12. CAN I CHOOSE THE RECIPIENT OF MY DONATION?