Question #1: What makes the antimicrobial used on this face mask better than those used on others?
Answer: Both the FDA and EPA have imposed severe restrictions on what can and cannot be said about antimicrobials and their efficacy. To learn more about this click here to go toUS Government Notice Concerning Product Claims About COVID-19
Most antimicrobials are actually only antibacterials. Many are metal-based (e.g. silver, copper) and often in nanoparticle form. Both are intrinsically unhealthy (especially to breathe through) and harmful to the environment. Most antimicrobials are treatments that are added to the fabric, wear off after a few washings and lose their effectiveness. Made a part of the fabric at manufacture via molecular bonding, the product we us is non-metallic and willoutlast the life of most fabrics. Created by Dow Chemical, it has an unparalleled 40-year safety and efficacy profile. Effective against gram-negative, enveloped microbes, it inactivates them by electrocution and, as a result, inhibits bio-burden build-up that's not only dangerous to the mask wearer but also a source of surface-based viral spread. Our mask's inner and outer layers, as well as the ear straps, have this protection. To see a short video that describes this technology click here. To learn more see Leveraging Technology and Science - Part II discussion here. For an even more expansivediscussion of antimicrobials see The Definitive Employer Guide to Purchasing Face Masks for Your Valued Employees page 27.
Question #2: What is the importance of the silk chiffon inner layer?
Answer: Beyond the indemnity afforded by the chemical antimicrobial agent, our mask offers redundant protection based largely upon the science which the N95 device relies. Many viruses have a negative (-) electrical charge and cannot survive on surfaces having a positive (+) charge. When silk (especially silk chiffon) rubs against cotton it creates a triboelectric charge that act like an air filter and attracts and electrocutes these microbes by electrical charge transfer). For more on this topic, see the discussion above in the section entitles Leveraging Technology and Science - Part I here. For even moreabout this, see the detailed discussion in The Definitive Employer Guide to Purchasing Face Masks for Your Valued Employees on page 44.
Question #3: Why is cotton so much better for a face mask than polyester or a polyester blend?
Answer: Cotton is a natural fiber that is actually hypoallergenic. On the contrary, polyester is a man-made, petroleum-based fiber that is a known carcinogen and very harmful to humans in many ways, environmentally toxic and unsuitable for face masks. In addition to its being unhealthy to breathe through (especially for extended time periods), studies have shown that viruses can survive on it for as long as seven days. It's simply a noxious fabric. For more about this, see the detailed discussion in The Definitive Employer Guide to Purchasing Face Masks for Your Valued Employees on page 20.
Question #4: Why are nose forms and adjustable ear straps so important?
Answer: Scientific studies show that just a 2% gap in a face mask can reduce its filtration effectiveness by half. Further, comfort isn't a luxury as it relates to face masks: it is essential as it reduces the need for the wearer to constantly adjust it with dangerous hand-to-face activity. Moreover, a face mask that is comfortable will be worn more frequently and longer. Nose forms and adjustable ear straps are key to a snug fit, tight air seal and greater comfort. For more about this, see the detailed discussion in The Definitive Employer Guide to Purchasing Face Masks for Your Valued Employees on page 35.
Question #5: What makes this face mask more breathable than other ones?
Answer: A face mask's breathability is largely a matter of the fabrics used in its construction, the number of layers it has, it's moisture control ability, the snugness of its fit and any filters that impact airflow. Often, for most face masks, there exists a tradeoff between comfort, breathability and filtration efficiency. To complicate matters, if a mask gets clogged up with germs, bacteria and/or viral build-up it can become less porous over time thereby limiting its airflow. Our mask features the highest quality cotton outer and inner layers, the most breathable material for face mask use. Its dual inner layers are silk chiffon, which is also very porous. Our mask does not use insertable filters that can encumber breathing. These factors all contribute to why our design ranks at the top of studies performed on face mask breathability. For more about Filtration, Antimicrobial and Bioburden Testing click here. You can also see a more detailed discussion in The Definitive Employer Guide to Purchasing Face Masks for Your Valued Employees on page 36.
Question #6: What's wrong with face masks that use carbon activated or polypropylene melt-down filter inserts?
Answer: Many face masks feature replaceable carbon- or charcoal-activated filters...often referred to as PM2.5 filters. To begin, these filters are essentially useless with respect to COVID-19 which, at ∼ 120 nanometers, is too small to be filter by them. They present significant risks as some contain harmful fibers that can be inhaled . For many, they make the face mask difficult to breathe through. Non-woven polypropylene is a synthetic material that is constructed of different chemicals and materials that are potentially toxic. These filters have a very limited life and must be replaced daily or at most, every 2 - 3 days, making the face mask expensive to use. Lastly, they are only barriers and do not prevent dangerous bio-burden surface build-up.
Question #7: What is Supima® cotton and why is it so important for a face mask?
Answer: Cotton — especially versus polyester — is the preferred fabric for cloth face masks for the reasons detailed above. Supima® cotton is, by far, the finest cotton in the world. Representing < 1% of all the cotton manufactured worldwide, and only 3% of US production, it is grown exclusively in four southwestern states by a limited group of licensed growers. Monitored by a GPS-based chain-of-custody system from planting to fabrication, its veracity is proven by DNA testing. The materials, scientific methods and processes used in its growth and production are like those used in organic farming. Due to its extra-long fiber length it is able to be fabricated in such a way that it creates extremely soft, luxurious fabrics that approach that of silk, making it the perfect material for a face mask's inner lining which will be next to a wearer's skin for hours on end. Despite it being four times the cost of other fine cottons, we use it for our mask's inner and outer layers, not only because of its incredible resilience, strength and durability, but because of its strong color retention properties that facilitate richer, deeper colors, more precise printing and less fading. Moreover, the more you wash and wear it, the softer and more luxurious it becomes. It has been said that "a product is only as good as the materials from which it is made". Intended, designed and purpose-built to be the finest non-medical cloth face mask in the world, this claim could simply not be made without using Supima® cotton. For more about this, see the detailed discussion in The Definitive Employer Guide to Purchasing Face Masks for Your Valued Employees on page 22.
Question #8: Why is it important to purchase a face mask that is manufactured in the United States?
Answer: Beyond simple patriotism, if there was ever a time to resist the urge to purchase foreign-made goods based on their relatively lower prices, it is now, especially when an employee’s health and well-being hangs in the balance. Here's why. Domestic purchasing will enable the US to regain its independence. Supporting local businesses strengthens our economy from the bottom up by reinforcing the stability of our local communities, both saving existing jobs and creating new ones. Buying American is not only cost-effective but environmentally sound and buying foreign-made goods can have the effect of promoting poor working conditions, unfair wages, unreasonable work hours, child labor and deficient worker benefits. Delivery reliability is critical when you really, really need to get something on time and no other companies meet their on-time delivery commitments more than ours. Relatedly, a hallmark of American manufacturing, our record for “getting it right the first time” is simply unparalleled. Further, there is no other designation that possesses more international cachet — or that is more synonymous with quality, excellent craftsmanship, precision, reliability, durability and value — than the “Made in the USA” label. For many employees, buying American will simply evidence a commitment to quality...and to them. While it is true that the price tags for domestically-made products may often be somewhat higher than those that are imported, in terms of cost-of-use and value, US-made products are often ultimately less expensive due to their quality, durability and reliability − all of which contribute to their longer useful life: consumers, throughout the world, know this. As we see it, it's important for everyone to play the long game, which strengthens our industries, our economy and the American worker: resist the temptation to purchase foreign goods based only on their price, without considering the bigger picture.
Question #9: This face mask appears to be more costly than most. Why then is it a genuine value?
Answer: People do not buy a Rolls Royce, Ferrari or Hummer to just get from here to there. Likewise, our face mask serves more than one purpose. In addition to helping to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19 it is designed and purpose-built to provide a more meaningful degree of wearer protection than an ordinary cloth face masks. This alone should warrant a perceived higher price However, upon closer inspection, our mask is actually less expensive than most when you consider the difference between price, cost-of-ownership and value. See here and the section above to learn more.
Question #10: Why does this face mask last longer than other face masks? Does it require special care?
Answer: The CDC suggests that reusable face masks be cleaned after every use because, during their use, they may come in contact with COVID-19 droplets or aerosol particulates. Moreover, studies show that active viral particles can remain on a face mask's surface for as long as seven days, thereby creating a dangerous bio-burden that could infect the mask wearer or transfer the virus to a surface with which the mask comes in contact. Cleaning a face mask is a way to both remove the bio-burden build-up and make the mask fresh for its next use. It is suggested that masks be washed at a temperate of ≥ 140 degrees Fahrenheit (e.g., twenty degrees higher than the recommended water heater temperature setting, although most are preset as such).
Unlike any other reusable face mask, the Stay Safer PRN95+ Protective Face Mask has two means by which to mitigate, if not eliminate, bio-burden build-up: the triboelectric air filter and a QAC-based chemical antimicrobial, both of which are intended to inactivate pathogens. Theoretically, if these methods worked perfectly, our mask should be free of active pathogens and, therefore, not require washing as often as others. Nonetheless, we recommend washing our mask regularly, maybe once per week, or when it gets dirty (e.g., from face oils, dead skin cells, etc.). Instead of using extremely hot water however, we recommended hand washing, in a sink, using warm water or in the washing machine on the "gentle" or "delicate" cycle, using warm water, and preferably in a tight mesh delicates bag (although this is not necessary). Instead of chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol or detergent, we recommend Woolite® or another mild cleaner, like dish soap. Leaving it out to dry, on a flat surface, is best. Following these instructions, it is possible that even with daily use, the mask will provide up to 90 days of effective service as the mask's antimicrobial will certainly out last the mask itself.
Question #11: Does your face mask help employers meet their OSHA, Workers’ Comp and other regulatory compliance responsibilities?
Answer: More and more government entities are requiring employers to provide their employees with face masks to wear at work and, increasingly, states are expanding the scope of their workers’ compensation programs to included COVID-19 as a covered illness, often with the presumption that it was contracted at work. OSHA’s "general duty clause" has always required employers to provide their employees with a safe workplace free of hazards and many experts believe that furnishing face masks to their employees, with a requirement to wear them, amounts to triggering an “administrative control” measure having personal protection equipment (PPE) implications. While OSHA has been unclear about cloth face masks being PPE, its initial Guidance for COVID-19 in the Workplace described four exposure risk categories (lower, medium, high, and very high) that workplaces and job tasks fall into, and the safety precautions that should be considered for each risk level, including what PPE may be appropriate. Based on these guidelines, we believe that employers would be prudent to consider the provision of cloth face masks to be a hybrid form of PPE; create a detailed face mask policy; adopt an exclusive company standard face mask; and ask more from their masks than just the ability to help curb community spread. Given that our face mask is designed and purpose-built to provide a more meaningful degree of wearer protection than other ordinary cloth masks, we see it as a step to help employers satisfy their OSHA responsibilities, and to reduce the new liability, risks and exposures that the COVID-19 crisis has created for them. For more about this, see the detailed discussion in The Definitive Employer Guide to Purchasing Face Masks for Your Valued Employees on page 44.
Question #12: Is this face mask certified as an FDA N95 Surgical Respirator or CDC/NIOSH Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirator? Answer: The answer to both questions is “no” because certification of this nature, by either agency, is neither currently required nor available. Our mask is however authorized for use by Health Care Employees and the general public under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for source control use. To learn more about this click here to go to US Government Notice Concerning Product Claims About COVID-19.
Cloth face masks are not considered to be respirators nor have they, as of yet, been officially deemed to be PPE. In part, this is because most, as a general rule, are loose fitting masks and create no effective seal around the mouth and nose; as they are intended only to protect those around the wearer from secretions by the wearer. As such, most cloth face masks do not provide a reliable level of protection for the wearer from inhaling airborne particles. They are typically intended to protect others around the wearer and to help mitigate community spread. As such, these agencies believe that although masks do add safety value in the workplace, and serve as a safety control (much like a sneeze guard), they do not act like a respirator. With this in mind, face masks are regulated by the FDA when they meet the definition of a “device” under section 201(h) of the Act and cloth face masks only fall within this definition when they are intended for a medical purpose: ours is not intended for that purpose. Likewise, paper and cloth face masks (like dental or non-N95 surgical masks) are not considered to be respirators, and do not trigger any certification requirement under OSHA standard 1910.134.
Question #13: Is this face mask effective against COVID-19?
Answer: Most employers want to do everything they can within their means to provide for a safe, hazard-free workplace, including furnishing effective and safe face masks to their employees. Though face masks are very effective at mitigating community spread, they are seen as an imperfect supplemental protection against COVID-19 as it's a novel strain of the coronavirus. As of September, 2020, there are no commercial entities that have been approved to study the impact of their products on COVID-19; the only entities that have been approved to study it are government ones. As such, there is not yet an acceptable method to make a claims against it and no company can directly claim that it’s product is effective against COVID-19, including the antimicrobial chemical agent used on fabrics used for face masks. Accordingly, the we make no such claim.