Calculator created to help determine face mask lifespan

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — There’s a variety of masks available for people to use, from cloth, to surgical to N-95, but not every mask is created equal when it comes to how long you should use them or how many you need. 

Now, there is help available to determine the lifespan of masks and face coverings.

When it comes to a cloth mask, it has an advantage.

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“I can match them to my clothing, they’re more economical and I can wash and reuse them,” said cloth mask user Candice May.

But, some people prefer the disposable surgical mask, however, it has limitations.

“After two hours, its efficacy goes down really fast,’’ said Dominika Miszewska.

That’s something most people like John Orellana don’t know. He said he’s got a few surgical-type masks in his car and only changes them out once a week or so.

Miszewska, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Warsaw, has solved the problem of trying to figure out the lifespan of various masks because she and a friend developed a mask calculator.

 “We thought it’d be really good to let people know how many masks they’ll have to stock up on beforehand,” she said.

The calculator developed by Miszewska and Maria Kluziak allows you to choose the kind of mask you prefer — be it cloth, surgical, N-95 or another kind. You add in variables like how many days you need one, the hours you’ll be wearing them, and the price per mask.

The calculator then tells you your cost and how many you’ll need.

It will also give you an estimate on how many masks you need based on your activities.

“For example, if you just go to the store twice a week, you can use a surgical mask or a cloth mask and wash it every week,” said Miszewska

As it turns out, a lot of people have no idea what their mask usage is.

Jean Orellana says she doesn’t know how many masks she uses over the course of a months because, “I keep reusing them.”

In researching data for her mask calculator, Miszewska said she was surprised by what she learned.

“Surgical masks — you have to change them every two hours. It was shocking to me to know it’s so often,” she said.

But, you won’t have to guess because those numbers are available in seconds on the internet for free.

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