Dust Masks Run Short as Coronavirus Spreads

In this article, I will debunk some of the myths of wearing face masks. In my woodworking career, I have worn dust masks as a matter of course but It seems that the supply of dust masks are being hampered by panic buying.  

Social media has provoked panic buying of dust masks

Public awareness is propagated on social and mainstream media but social media is powered by peoples thoughts and beliefs. This tribal is why we cannot always truly rely on what is shared online. Fact-checking is a practice we must all do to discredit the spreaders of Fake News!

Coronavirus Face Mask News

The ‘WHO’, not the rock band but the World Health Organisation warns of a shortage of supply of face masks

04/04/2020 – C.D.C. is reconsidering their advice to wearing face masks

The Centre of Desease Control is reconsidering its advice to whether you should protect yourself in public by wearing a facemask. Originally the WHO and the CDC both advised against the wearing of face masks as they were thought to be useless against Covid-19. March 31st the C.D.C is now saying that they are reviewing they’re original advice and weighing towards advising us to wear face masks.

04/04/2020 News from the White House

Today Donald Trump gave confusing advise on the wearing of anti-virus protective equipment.

Donald Trump said, “you can wear a mask but you don’t have to but 
I won’t be and a scarf is better” 04/04/2020

30/03/2020 Mr Sweetman supplies NHS with Face Shields

Stuart Sweetman of King Henry VIII School is a design and technology teacher. This hero saw the problem and took it upôn himself to supply the NHS health worker with PPE in the form of lightweight face shields. As a result of him and his volunteer’s businesses have also contributed materials for the laser cut face shields. Since his contribution to resolving the lack of protection for our health workers, others have also have organised random acts of kindness.

The Face Mask is a Dust Mask?

Yes, the Dust mask is basically just a face mask.

Not all Face Masks are the same

Dust/ Face masks are not all the same with some that just filter dust particlesothers help reduce chemical inhalation.

  • Plain fine dust filtration
  • HEPA allergen filtration
  • Activated Carbon absorbs odours

The NHS is struggling to acquire sufficient supply of medical face masks that meet the minimum standard of N95, P2 or FFP2.

Face Masks Explained

Respirators are a bit misunderstood so I will try to explain the different types of face masks that are available here and abroad. Because you are being flooded with varying information on face masks and their types you can be forgiven if it is all very confusing. Facemask type categories such as n95, P100 or even FFP3. This is not all there are other recognised standards of respirator face masks from Korea and Chinas YY 0469 standard.

Types of dust mask in the USA

Respirator Oil resistance ‘Niosh’

  • N: Not resistant to oil
  • R: Resistant to oil
  • P: Oilproof

Each of these categories of the mask is available in different particle efficiency

  • 95%
  • 99%
  • 100%

Example1 N95: Not resistant to oil but 95% efficient at filtering particles down to 0.3 micron

Example 2 P100: Resistant to Oil and 100% efficient at filtering particles down to 0.3 micron

Types of dust mask in the UK and mainland Europe

  • P1 or FFP1 (80%)
  • P2 or FFP2 (95%)
  • P3 or FFP3 (99%)


This category of mask refers to the shape of the mask

Types of dust mask in Korea

  • KF80 (80%)
  • KF94 (95%)
  • KF99 (99%)

Types of dust mask in China

It is sensible to wear a dust mask rated for dust and possibly carbon. This is me ready to rock n roll for a sanding session. Yes i do use dust extraction but no dust extraction can filter 100% dust from machines.

Is a face mask with a valve best for COVID-19?

Simply put ‘NO’ and let me explain why! The purpose of the valve is to help you exhale. It does this by allowing air in one direction.

When you INHALE the valve CLOSES forcing the air which you inhale to past through the filter material.

When you EXHALE the valve OPENS to exhaust your spent air without passing through the filter.

Face masks outfitted with a valve make the mask very much more comfortable and ideal for it’s intended purpose. Remember these dust masks are designed to protect the wearer.

Why is the Valve bad for Coronavirus?

The CDC and WHO say the wearing of a face mask has little benefit for the wearer but can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and you from infecting yourself by touching your mouth. 

Although any face mask will help prevent the spread of the virus. Face masks with a valve fitted can leak the virus through the valve when you exhale or cough. 

A face or dust mask without a valve fitted is best for preventing the spread of COVID 19.

Ask us a Question on Face Masks

I am sure you must have a whole load of burning questions? This is understandable when our dear leaders cannot seem to submit themselves to one clear line of thinking. The repeated question is: “is the wearing of a face mask a good idea during this Coronavirus Pandemic?” 

If you have anything you would like an honest opinion on why not ask it in the comments?  You’ll find the comments section down the bottom.

Other articles we have written in regards to Coronavirus and how PPE supply has been affected

Safety Goggles runs short as Coronavirus Spreads

Could I make a face mask?

This is not something I recommend but considering the Coronavirus situation, it may be your only option. There are hundreds of videos online about how to make a face mask for Coronavirus. If you want to take this route because you have no choice make sure you use materials that are effective and safe for wearing next to the skin.

Didn’t surgical masks use to be made from cotton?

This is true as many nurses would have a cotton mask which was washable. If you have no choice and are nifty with a needle and thread you could make a multilayered face mask as long as it fits the face correctly. Remember the virus can be inhaled into the lungs through any gaps on the back of moisture droplets. Homemade face masks cannot filter the virus but could capture the water droplets which the virus is hitchhiking on.

Reasons not to make a face mask

  • Not reliable
  • Possible toxins on material
  • No good for capturing particles
  • A false sense of security

Reasons to make a face mask

  • No other choice
  • Extreme circumstances demand a face cover such as caring for an infected person

Could I make a face mask from a vacuum HEPA bag?

I theory you could but be warned some vacuum bags contains toxins

  • HEPA vacuum bags are not designed for human inhalation
  • HEPA vacuum bags could contain chemicals which are irritant
  • HEPA is designed as a large surface area filter medium so you will need to make a large filter

A food clip will not help you and you will get a very red nose!

This face mask is a ingenius use of waste materials. I cannot guarantee how efficient this respirator is but I have to admit it is rather clever.

A simple cloth face mask could help in a push but protection is limited

Understanding Viral Load

Simply put the Viral Load is the quantity of Virus by volume. The viral load would be measured virus per ml. Depending on the type of viral infection will dictate the transport medium that the virus is carried.

  • COVID-19 would be measured by the volume in water or other respiratory fluid
  • HIV, as it is a blood infection, would be measured by volume in blood

I known this is not directly related to dust masks but it helps to understand as the term is shared across the net. 

Where the viral load is interesting in relation to face masks is that some masks can harbour the virus close to the face.

Important update (DANGER)

Chlorine or any other kind of detergent should never be ingested or injected. 

Donald Trump’s spin on the possibility of utilising Domestos as a treatment for the destruction of Coronavirus within one minute is pure madness. Never ever even consider this as a scientific point of view which Doctor Birx clearly understands. 

It is true that UV light can reduce viral load but the idea that it can be used within the human body is also madness?. The levels of UV light required will carry a high level of possible cancer-causing radiation. 

Some Asian hospitals use high power UV lights to sterilise hospital rooms but physicians have to leave the room while they are on!

Viral load is also relevant in room spaces

A room can collect viral matter over a period of time if it is inhabited by a person carrying the virus. While we know as per the information provided by the CDC that COVID-19  that the virus has a limited life if no host is found. 

Places where a Viral load can grow

  • Rooms such as Coronavirus treatment centres (Disinfection essential)
  • In face masks!
  • Respiratory systems
  • Public spaces such as the Metro or London underground
  • Areas of low air circulation

These are some of the higher risk areas but unless you subject your self to the risk occasional exposure the risk is low. This is why it is important to protect yourself and others by ‘Staying Home’ 

Keep safe and #stayathome I made this mini Movie for you to try and lighten the mood XXX

Can Air Purifiers reduce Viral Load

There is no clinical evidence that these air purifiers actually lower Viral Load but equally thjere is no evidence that they don’t. The fact is at the time of writing this no tests have been performed.

Air Purifiers are fitted with True HEPA

This is where is gets interesting because NASA tested HEPA filter medium for the it’s efficiency for trapping viruses so their astronauts were safe while self confining in Space! NASA found that HEPA filters almost prevented 100% viruses passing through the filter.

Are viruses too small to pass through HEPA

Technically a virus of 0.01 microns can pass through a filter of 0.3 microns. So why does a HEPA stop a virus according to tests? This is not the case for all viruses Coronavirus is carried in air by moisture such as

  • Water droplets
  • Aerosol
  • Spit
  • Coughs
  • Sneezes

Viruses that are airborne on droplets cling to the fibreglass fibres of a HEPA filter thus trapping viruses.

My Levoit LV-H133 free-standing air purifier. We can’t express enough how much better our home feels with this reasonably priced unit. As an asthma sufferer, I have noticed a huge improvement.

My conclusion of HEPA air purifier for trapping Viruses

I cannot say for sure that an Air purifier with preventing you from a Coronavirus infection. Common sense tells me that there is some evidence that HEPA filters can help reduce the risk. Even if an air purifier is not directly proven to reduce viruses it will improve the quality air in your home and this is why we bought our Levoit LV-H133 6 months ago. I believe a good Air Purifier could help reduce viral load in confined spaces. I am no scientist so please forgive me but I believe my experience of using dust control equipment has educated me into having some undestanding how particles are trapped in filter mediums within my work shops.

If you want proof that a Levoit LV-H133 air purifier is a good idea then watch this video and see for yourself the nasties which this filter can trap (including flies!)

But could a Face mask help?

Yes, a face mask could help lower the risk but not all facemasks offer the correct protection. 

Best Face mask to protect me?

We are all different and not all face masks fit correctly. For a face mask or dust mask to protect the wearer, it has to fit snuggly to the face with no gaps.

COVID-19 needs a host

Without a host, the virus will die. We know that the virus can survive for short periods on surfaces.

Can the virus survive on surfaces

Some surfaces such as cardboard can harbour the virus longer according to Dr Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunology at Yale University and Dr Julia Marcus, infectious disease epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical

Why a Face Mask should be useless against viruses

There is no practical personal filter that can tecnically prevent a virus from entering our lungs. Viruses are just to small. HEPA filters are thought to be capable of filtering viruses according to NASA

Why does the CDC still recommend wearing a face mask?

After reading the information I provide here you probably think the wearing of a face mask to protect against viruses is pointless but that is not true.

Reasons why you should wear a face mask

  • You are suffering from virus symptoms so the wearing of a face mask is recommended
  • To protect your self from others spit, coughs, sneezes or exhaled moisture

The reason why not to wear a face mask remembering they are in short supply during an epidemic or pandemic

  • Routine wearing when no risk of human contact
  • When a Health care professional needs them more

The only reason for a citizen to wear a mak is when you are infected with COVID-19 or that you are caring for somebody who if infected

How big is a virus?

There are many different viruses but they can be as small a 0.1 microns but N95 face masks can filter down to 0.3 microns

Remember that virus infections don’t only enter the body through our breathing but also via:

  • Skin
  • Ingestion
  • Membranes
  • Eyes
  • Insect bites

There is a but? yes it is possible for viruses such as Covid-19 to enter the body via mucus membranes but respitory infections are unlikely if the ifection is carried by the blood. Most transmissions are by ‘Hand to Mouth’ so good hygiene is a must. Wash your hands.

Routes of Exposure

Inhalation or physical contact with the mouth is not the only route of exposure for biohazards. Infection can occur from other routes of exposure, such as
ingestion, skin and mucous membrane penetration (including the eyes) and animal and insect bites. Skin and mucous

Trend Routing Technology AIRSHIELD NSMP

3M Versaflo Heavy Industry PAPR Kit TR-600-HIK

Woodworker should check their store of face masks!

This is an argument that a woodworker should consider topping up their stores of dust masks and filters. I suppose this is panic buying but at least the wearing of dust masks is a practical solution for the woodworker to prevent wood dust inhalation. We already know many wood dust particles such as Oak dust is a known carcinogen.  So do not feel as though you are adding to the problem as you are the one who should be wearing dust/face masks!

Will face masks prevent Coronavirus COVID 19?

Although the outbreak of Coronavirus has put many countries on high alert and individuals are taking precautions in the form of hygiene and wearing face masks. The fact is that the face masks will have little effect in protecting you against the virus. 

We see the paper and other media sources showing pictures of our favourite celebrities wearing these face masks offering little than placebo benefits. 

I have seen images of celebrities such as Kate Hudson and Gwyneth  Paltrow wearing face masks as though they are some kind of fashion statement. Are they genuinely worried or just milking the publicity?

Ironic since Gwyneth Paltrow died in the film ‘Contagion’

The death of Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow)and her son leads to the discovery of a deadly virus. While the US CDC struggles to curb its spread, worldwide panic ensues.  Considering what is happening in 2020 with the Coronavirus it is scary how close this film almost mirrors this pandemic.

The CDC has said that a ‘Face Mask’ should be worn by infected people or Key workers such as Nurses who are caring for Coronavirus patients.

What will a face mask protect you against in regards to a viral outbreak such as COVID 19?

  • Other people who spit when they talk
  • Other peoples  Coughs or Sneezes
  • The above should be worn with goggles

What will a Face mask not do with regard to Covid-19?

  • Filter Coronavirus
  • Prevent inhalation of dry airborne viruses (Covid-19 is carried by water droplets)
  • Prevent virus from entering our bloodstream through our EYEs (Goggles should be worn)

Electron Microscope image of a Virus. An electron microscope is a scientific imaging device that fires a beam of accelerated electrons to illuminate the subject.

Air Purifiers could help to filter Coronavirus from the home. We have installed two airfilters after my son bought one for his flat. We saw that the filter helped to reduce his asthma attacks. Since buying our Levoit filters we are now confronted with the pandemic. As a person interested in anything complicated I took it upon myself to research and ask questions from my chemical technician friend. Since i was directed to NASA research I learnt that these air purifiers reduced the percentage of the virus to air volume.  I and my wife are extra happy with our Air Purifier purchases.

The Face Mask might increase risk of Coronavirus?

The fact that the face mask is a bad idea for protection against contracting this disease it can help from infection by direct contact with sprayed bodily fluids such a spit. The caveat here is that the COVID-19 can live for 9 days without a host. 

The Face mask is only any good if you are aware that you have been at the risk of bodily fluids being sprayed at you so you can promptly dispose of the face mask. Remember the face mask can concentrate the virus in one area with multiple infections.

lusion on wearing a face mask to protect against Coronavirus

I am no expert in face masks or the Coronavirus virus but I have to admit some common sense approach is a better solution than to frivolously wear face masks. This is not just my opinion but scientists and health officials have said the wearing of dust/face masks offer limited protection for the general public. So let us not use these masks unnecessarily, reducing the availability of face masks for dusty professions that do benefit from this PPE. 

Can Salt neutralise Coronavirus?

Scientists in Canada have found that coating the outside of the mask with table salt can possibly neutralize viruses. The jury is out whether salt has any effect on reducing the risk of contracting Coronavirus!

Can rinsing your nose with salt water mixed in water(saline) help prevent coronavirus?

According to the NHS, there is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with salt water (saline) protects you from coronavirus.

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. But regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

Is a Neti sinus rinse a good idea?

A Neti bottle filled with saline rinsing our sinuses might actually help or at least it is not going to hurt. So if it doesn’t help according to officials because no studies have been done in relation to Covid-19. At least other Pathogens and potential Carcinogens are washed away.

What is a Neti bottle?

A net bottle is used to clear away pathogens from the nasal passage by flushing the sinus with a saline solution. Saline is a mix of salt and bottled or bottled water.

Types of neti bottle

  • Genie lantern-shaped NETI POT
  • Squeezable bottom-fed bottle such as the Neilsmed
  • Gravity fed reversable bottle with anti vacuum valve

Even I use the eye watering sinus wash by Neils Yard but it is worth it! As a woodworker working in a dusty environment it is shocking to see what is left in the sink! Please note that contrary to the poster I am not performing a ‘doubled ended clense’!

Is a  face mask is just a dust mask?

Let’s remember that a face mask is little more than a dust mask designed for use by manual workers in dusting environments. As a woodworker I wear my dust mask on a daily basis and although it is not impervious to dust it certainly prevent most of the particles from entering my lungs.

Are Faces masks good for Bearded Men?

The face or dust mask relies on its sealing against the face. If you have a fuzz adorning your facade the dust mask is unlikely to help although that thick beard might hold back some larger particles!

There are different extremes of beard that include, just for fun!

some of these styles of beard does not affect the practical use of the face mask such as the Goatee.

Can an Air Purifier Protect You From the Coronavirus?

There is some ambiguity surrounding Air Purifiers and if they can protect you from the Covid-19 virus. Air purifiers such as the Levoit LV-H133 is installed with a HEPA filter which can filter particles down to 0.3 microns but viruses are around 0.1 microns. On paper you could understand that the virus is just too small to be caught but in practice the reality is different.

Coronavirus is carried by water droplets.

We are told by the CDC and the WHO that Covid-19 is transmitted between people by our projectile moisture such as spit.

NASA tested HEPA

This is where it gets interesting, NASA tested the effectiveness of the true HEPA filter medium for capturing viruses. The purpose of this test was to see how effective the filter would be in case an astronaut became infected with a virus. NASA found that the HEPA filter prevented viruses from passing through almost 100%.

Why is the HEPA filter effective against Viruses

HEPA filters can capture the moisture which the virus is carried. The water droplets cling to the strands of the glass fibre material hence preventing Covid-19 from escaping.

In conclusion: the practical use of an air purifier to capture viruses

No air purifier can prevent you from being infected by a Virus but is can lower the risk if the virus is captured by the HEPA before it reaches you. We have two air purifiers in our home and we swear by them because they just make the air feel nicer by reducing airborne eallergens, capturing viruses is just a bonus.

My Levoit LV-H133 Air purifier in my home. Really happy to have this air filter as it improves the air quality.

Levoit LV-H132 below is the Air purifier that my son owns. He suffers from allergies and finds this filter a must.

My conclusion on why dust masks are in short supply

So why is the humble dust mask or as it is known today the face in such short supply when it is so easy to manufacture in the millions. Yes, the demand is high in the coronavirus hospitals but the governments were warned of the potential risk of high demand by the WHO yet nobody prepared their stocks of PPE. All countries are supposed to prepare for epidemics or worse this pandemic yet they did not have any surplus other than last years demand. The world is too dependent on the ‘Just in time’ supply chain and this is not conducive with emergency situations such as this COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

As a woodworker, the need is still as important as it was before even with the reduced workload. I do not feel as though my health needs are any less important than any other especially when the long term health risk is cancer!

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3 thoughts on “Dust Masks Run Short as Coronavirus Spreads”

  1. Good article! I still see a lot of people debating whether masks are effective or not, spoiler alert, they are!!

    People can be asymptomatic meaning that they don’t know they have the virus as they have no symptoms, meaning they can pass it around freely without knowing.

    If everyone was wearing masks, any mask, including dust masks, then the infected people would be protecting the world by not exposing other people to the virus, especially elderly people.

    Stay safe everyone!

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