▲KF80 mask (source: aer official page)
|▲How to wrap a mask|
For modern people living in the COVID-19 era, masks have become a necessity. Before coronavirus, wearing masks was optional, such as on days when fine dust was severe or after someone had caught a cold. But nowadays nobody can go out without a mask. At first, many people felt uncomfortable and awkward wearing masks, but now a year after mandatory masks, people have adapted. So where do masks come from and how can people integrate them efficiently into daily life?
The oldest masks that have been discovered are 9000 years old. Masks were also used in ancient Greece. At that time, masks were clearly used differently from the current health masks. Health masks like the ones people use now began to be used after the Spanish flu. The Spanish flu broke out in 1918 and killed 25 to 50 million people worldwide in two years. Starting with the Spanish flu, medical workers in Europe and the U.K made cloth masks, and since the 1920s, it has become mandatory for medical staff to wear masks. In the 1930s, the importance of masks increased due to air pollution, resulting in felt masks similar in form to the masks worn today. From this point on, a variety of masks of different form, function, and material were made.
There are many kinds of masks. They are largely divided into the two groups of medical masks and household masks. Medical masks include health masks, surgical masks, and smear-blocking masks, while household masks include masks people wear when they have a cold such as cotton masks. Health masks include kf80, kf94, and kf99 masks. “KF” indicates that it is certified by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and the higher the index, the higher the small particle blocking rate. However, even though a higher KF index means better protection, it also means it is more difficult to breathe. Surgical masks are used by medical workers to prevent infections during medical treatment. Surgery and smear-blocking masks are used to prevent infection in daily life.
There is also a right way to wear a mask. In particular, health masks need to be worn in the right way to increase the protective effect, and masks should be worn with a good fit to the face to cover the nose and mouth completely. In addition, health masks have an electrostatic filter insert, making it difficult to maintain due to damage and deformation of the filter insert when washing with water. Once worn masks are contaminated with dust and bacteria, they should be discarded without washing or reusing them.
Mask waste has become a serious problem as mask use has increased due to the mandatory wearing of masks. Masks contain plastic materials, which can cause environmental pollution and turn into micro-plastics as they wear out. In particular, the straps of masks can become a noose, threatening the lives of wild animals. The right way to throw away a mask is to fold it so it is small and wrap it with a string or cut both strings with scissors. Also, masks must be thrown away in the regular garbage.
When coronavirus first began to spread, it was difficult to get masks. The government had to face many difficulties trying to make sure everyone had access to masks, including putting forward policies to purchase masks. A year later, people have adapted to masks, but there are still many inconveniences with wearing masks. Like Israel, which has largely overcome coronavirus due to vaccinations, people living in Korea will soon be able to take off their masks if the vaccination rate rises. Until then, everyone should try to wear masks effectively, maintain quarantine safety measures, and do their best to get through these challenging times.
By So Min-young, cub-reporter email@example.com
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