Covid-19, coronavirus, social distancing, airborne particles, flattening the curve… all things that meant nothing to most of us just a few short months ago, but are now terms that are casually thrown into group WhatsApp chats and discussed and debated at length. All in all, 2020 has certainly proved to be a bit of a crash course in amateur epidemiology for the general public, as we all scramble to understand what we need to do to protect ourselves and our families, and adapt to a very new way of life.
As lockdown measures continue to lift, wearing a face mask in public is going to play a big part in this new normal; it’s now mandatory to wear one on public transport in England and Scotland, and in hospitals in England. If you’ve been doing your research before you buy yours, ‘nanofiber’ is perhaps another previously unheard of term that you might be coming across more and more. And that’s because when it comes to face coverings and how much protection various types offer, nanofibers are a bit of a game-changer. So what are they, and why do you need to know about them? Here’s the lowdown…
Created using an electro-spinning process, nanofibers are ultra thin fibres which form a fine, taut mesh. Like most viruses, coronavirus particles are tiny, far too small to get caught in most standard fabrics, but the nanofiltration technology used to develop the Ally face cover creates a weave of microscopic holes that are small enough to block >95% of airborne particles, even very small nanoparticles.
Well, we’ve touched on the superior filtration nanofibers offer, which is one of the reasons our face coverings, while not classified as PPE (the stocks of which should be preserved for frontline workers), have been certified in accordance with the KN95 test standard (similar to the American N95 and European FFP2). This accreditation means they represent the highest degree of face cover protection available to the general public.
But the crucial difference between nanofiber masks like the Ally face cover and other melt-blown, non-woven covers is that the nanofiber filter structure retains its effectiveness after multiple washes, even when sterilised with alcohol.
Tests conducted by researchers at Shinshu University in Japan demonstrated that while both types of mask had a similar degree of high filtration efficiency to begin with, when disinfected with ethanol the nanofiber mask’s shape and pore size (the holes which block any contaminants) remained unchanged, even after multiple uses. In comparison, the filtering performance of the mask with a melt-blown filter was severely compromised after a single treatment. This is why you can wear and wash your Ally face cover up to 20 times, confident in the knowledge it will keep protecting you and those around you, each and every time you wear it.
Being a mask that can be washed and reused multiple times also makes the Ally face cover a more environmentally sound (not to mention economical) choice over buying countless single use surgical masks. These disposable masks are designed to be replaced as soon as they get damp or after each use, and are non-recyclable. Sadly, discarded single use masks are already becoming a common sight on our roadsides and shorelines.
However efficient a face mask is, it also needs to be comfortable in order to persuade more of us to wear one day-to-day. KN95/N95 respirator masks are notoriously uncomfortable to wear (and can make breathing difficult), but this is where nanofibers also really make a difference.The filtration technology allows moisture to pass through, making them feel light and comfortable and allowing your skin to breathe, even in warm weather or when worn for a prolonged period. The Ally face cover also includes a pure cotton layer on the inside, to minimise any skin irritation.
Remember that even when wearing a face covering you still need to continue practising other preventative safety measures to help protect yourself and others from coronavirus, such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and adhering to social distancing where possible. After you’ve fitted your mask securely over your nose and mouth avoid touching or adjusting it, and wash your hands thoroughly after removing it.
Available in sizes for both adults and kids, and in a range of colours, Ally face coverings are reusable, effective up to 20 washes. Customised options using your own branding or design are also available for businesses.