Doctors warn against usage of designer face masks, as the demand for them rises
3 December 2020
Consumers opt for designer face masks even though they are not effective against the COVID 19 virus. Designer face masks have become quite popular among the masses. These masks come in various designs–from one’s favourite cartoon character to traditional Indian block prints. Customers say that they prefer wearing designer masks as they are both trendy and cheap. A customer, Swastik Bhattacharjee, says “One reason because it is cheap, so also because I can choose the designs and wear a different one each day. They are also more comfortable.”
According to local mask manufacturers, an average of 60 percent of people are buying designer face masks over N95 masks. With a surge in the demand for fashion masks, many manufacturers both offline and online have also started selling such masks. “The fashion masks are sold more than the N95 masks. Ninety percent of the time fashion masks are sold,” says Krishna Pandey, a local mask manufacturer and seller. Malvika Sinha who sells her designer masks says that fashion masks have become even more of a hit due to the festive season. “Makeup has taken a backseat, hence, people are trying to get fashionable masks to dress up during the festive season,” she says.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines says, masks should have three layers and should be made from cotton. Most of the fashion face masks do not adhere to these guidelines, according to doctors.
Doctors say that most fashion masks are made from hosiery or t-shirt fabric. This fabric is stretchable. The size of the COVID virus is 50-200 nanometer, thus it can easily pass through a stretchable material like hosiery. Doctors also say that these face masks are not made from three layers, but from two or even one.
Dr Rajiv Shah, community health doctor says that the government needs to do more. “Our electronic devices like refrigerators and air conditioners have a rating system on it, so why not have a agency that will rate the different types of masks that are available in the market, so that the customer can make an informed decision based on the rating as to what grade of mask are they going to use,” he says.
According to Dr. Shah these masks have now become a fashion statement more than a safety measure. He also believes that the customer too should be more aware about the type of mask they are buying and whether they are adhering to the guidelines.