Big and Small (2)

Just as a follow-on from my earlier post, where I got as far as having discovered that virus particles are about 0.02 microns in size.

A bit more time today, and a bit more digging.

I didn’t bother with Denier, overnight I decided that was probably a red herring.

I did, however, find a UK company called Filtrex. I had in my mind something like DIY masks for sanding etc. but these guys seem far more upmarket – clean rooms etc. On their site, I found a useful page which talked about standards. Apparently there is one, ISO 16890. It only came about in 2016 so I suspect it isn’t ubiquitous yet. Bottom line, it splits filters into four levels, and even the highest quality of these only filters particles of 0.3-1 micron. That’s still an order of magnitude bigger than COVID-19. Imagine trying to get a yardstick through a 10-yard gap…. Conclusion – I’m looking in the wrong ballpark.

I then started looking at other standards. I came across FFP1, 2 and 3, which I think are EU standards. FFP = filtering facepiece. The masks gradually restrict smaller particles. with FFP3 offering the highest level of protection.

FFP3 masks are what is used by our NHS to care for COVID patients, with a big caveat that if you’re working in the NHS, these masks are supposed to be fitted to your face, so there’s no gap. With all the hoo-ha here about PPE, I have no idea whether that is actually happening, but it is what is supposed to happen.

FFP3 is also the type of mask recommended by the WHO to treat COVID patients – reassuring that in this case at least, we are fitting in with international standards. On some sites I have seen that it is the equivalent of N99. Funny, Jim Adams mentioned an N-rating after my original post, yesterday, but I couldn’t dig up any info. I’m guessing it is the corresponding US standard.

FFP3 masks seem to be retailing on eBay at around GBP20 minimum. That’s not far different in USD or EUR, and that’s each. Pretty blatant profiteering, most likely.

Nevertheless I might get one with a view to washing it between trips out, although that is bloody expensive just for a mask. And before I buy anything I’ll need to be clear whether it is washable or not.

Even after that, I’m not sure that they will be a barrier, but I’m guessing that since the NHS use this standard of mask, it’ll be the best I can get hold of. I might have to settle for that. Given this appears to be a European standard, and we have been in the EU for forty-odd years, I wouldn’t expect to have to look for any other standards.

Mister Bump

In the UK people have been talking about lifting lockdown, with the mandatory wearing of masks in public places. My gut feel is that our government is libertarian in nature, so won’t go near that. They might advise, but I doubt they’ll mandate. “Experts” seem split on whether they are effective or not (the masks, not the government. Everybody is pretty unanimous about the government!) I think it is a case of choose an expert who fits in with what you already think. So one of the questions I have had on my list of things I really need to do, (and sooner rather than later) has been to evaluate the question of just how much use a facemask would be.

I started off, I must admit, thinking: particles small, gaps in the mesh of facemask fibres big, so really did not see the point in wearing one. But I…

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Originality

For Fandango’s One Word Challenge (F/@OWC), central.

  • Acton Central
  • Birkenhead Central
  • Burnley Central
  • Cardiff Central
  • Coatbridge Central
  • Dumbarton Central
  • Exeter Central
  • Folkestone Central
  • Gainsborough Central
  • Glasgow Central
  • Greenock Central
  • Hackney Central
  • Hamilton Central
  • Helensburgh Central
  • Hyde Central
  • Lincoln Central
  • Liverpool Central
  • Milton Keynes Central
  • New Mills Central
  • Redcar Central
  • Rotherham Central
  • Salford Central
  • Southampton Central
  • Southend Central
  • St Helens Central
  • Telford Central
  • Walthamstow Central
  • Warrington Central
  • Wembley Central
  • Windsor & Eton Central
  • Wrexham Central

all stations on the UK rail network. Not bad when, for the most part, our railways just grew organically and unplanned.