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When public health officials recommended back in April that people wear face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19, most grabbed whatever they could get their hands on. But with time, and more research, many folks are putting a little extra thought into the kind of masks to buy.
Face masks infused with copper had their moment—the theory was that the material’s antimicrobial and antiviral properties could offer better protection than ‘regular’ masks. But now there’s a mask infused with silver ion that’s getting a lot of attention.
Silver has antimicrobial properties, too. It’s known to be biologically active when it’s in a charged (aka ionic) state. Research has found that silver ions can enter into the cell of bacteria and disrupt the bacteria’s pathways. It can also disrupt DNA and its replication cycle, keeping bacteria from spreading.
“Silver has known antibacterial activity,” Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio, and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life. In fact, he says, “silver coating is used on some medical devices to reduce the risk of infections.”
What’s not clear, though, is whether silver can help protect against COVID-19 when it’s in mask form. These particular masks are made with 94 percent polyester and 6 percent silver fiber, and you can actually see the silver on the outer layer.
Just like other cloth face masks, they’re washable and reusable. They also have adjustable ear loops to help you get a perfect fit.
Whether the silver element helps or not, the masks do meet guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for cloth face masks. According to the recommendations, cloth face masks should be made of at least three layers that contain the following elements:
An inner layer made of an absorbent material like cotton.
A middle layer made of a non-woven material like polypropylene. This is designed to act as a filter.
An outer layer made of a non-absorbent material, such as polyester or a polyester blend.
This face mask has it all: It features an inner layer made of 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton, a middle layer made of polyethylene terephthalate and an outer layer that’s 94 percent polyester and 6 percent silver ion fiber.
And Amazon shoppers are taking note. “These are about the only masks that both my husband and I could agree on. We both like how they look as well as how they fit,” one five-star reviewer wrote.
“So far they’re the most comfortable and ‘breathable’ masks I have come across, even with the extra layer between,” another said. Yet another five-star reviewer raved about the mask’s “high end” look, noting that it’s “suitable for an executive meeting.”
“I have people asking me all the time where I got it,” the reviewer added.
It’s unclear at this point whether silver ion face masks are the next big thing in COVID-19 protection. But, if you’re looking for a sleek-looking mask that meets public health guidelines, this one’s a winner.
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