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In my Happy Masks thread, NotaNumber said that dd20 should probably use something with more protection for her lab research this summer. So now my question is this: For 6 or more daily hours in a lab with 5 other students and 2-3 professors, what is the best mask to be using? And where on earth can I order them? We only have a couple of weeks to get this all sorted out, and I know shipping can take a while, so I want to get on it ASAP.

Here  is the place she will be doing the research. It’s exciting because she will be in the very first batch of undergrads doing research at the newly completed facility. 

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25 minutes ago, I talk to the trees said:

In my Happy Masks thread, NotaNumber said that dd20 should probably use something with more protection for her lab research this summer.

Why do you think she needs something better?  Are you wanting to protect against Covid or something else?  BTW, the research facility looks AMAZING!!

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I haven't read the other thread, but will she be vaccinated by then?

For vaccinated family members we're going with Happy Masks or some kind of triple-layer cloth equivalent when indoors in public. Unvaccinated family members are wearing KN95 masks when indoors in public. They're much more comfortable than N95s for wearing all day, but the fit and seal are better than any of the cloth masks we have, including our Happy Masks. 

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, mjbucks1 said:

Why do you think she needs something better?  Are you wanting to protect against Covid or something else?  BTW, the research facility looks AMAZING!!

Thanks 😊! Her prof. Is a Bowdoin alum, and is very excited about taking his honors research students to the fancy, new building in his old stomping grounds. The masks are for Covid protection, because although she and the other two students from her home lab will be vaccinated, the others in the lab may not be, and they will be working in pretty close quarters. Also, dd has some underlying conditions that make her higher risk for complications of Covid, so anything we can do to add a little bit of protection is worth doing! Better to overprotect than underprotect in her situation.

Edited by I talk to the trees
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17 minutes ago, Acadie said:

I haven't read the other thread, but will she be vaccinated by then?

For vaccinated family members we're going with Happy Masks or some kind of triple-layer cloth equivalent when indoors in public. Unvaccinated family members are wearing KN95 masks when indoors in public. They're much more comfortable than N95s for wearing all day, but the fit and seal are better than any of the cloth masks we have, including our Happy Masks. 

She and the other members of her home lab and her prof. will be vaccinated, but the other students and their professors may not be. So how and where would I go to be sure I’m getting quality KN95 masks? With so many counterfeits out there, I'm not sure where to order from. I was kind of hoping that someone on here who is  currently working in a cheek-by-jowl situation  could shed some light on that for me!

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Posted (edited)

I am assuming that the respiratory risk in this situation is from sharing an indoor space with other people.  (If she requires respiratory protection due to other respiratory hazards from nature of the work itself, it will be provided for her)

The hospital covid PPE standard in Canada right now is ear-loop medical mask for all hospital work other than Aerosol Generating Medical  Procedures (intubating, CPR, high flow 02, nebulaized treatments etc).  So workers, including lab,  are in ear-loop pleated medical masks.   Even when providing care for known positive COVID patients.  It does work - our staff covid rates are lower than in the general community, and most staff cases are traceable to the community rather than the workplace.

She's probably at less risk in a lab than in most other indoor spaces;  labs are likely to be well-ventilated.

I think I would want something with a proper melt-blown polypro filter layer, that's well fitting.  My first choice would be a pleated medical mask (excellent filtration) under a well fitting cloth mask (to seal up gaps).  That will provide her with excellent protection. 

I wouldn't worry too much about finding a respirator (n95 or KN95 or K94).   The filtration of the material in these isn't really much better than a pleated medical mask  They are superior because they fit tightly without gaps - and you need a personal, formal fit test to know if they fit properly or not.  I'm not convinced that they are better than well-fitting cloth mask over medical mask for the average user who hasn't been fit tested.  I mean, they are a fine choice, but I wouldn't waste money or energy tracking them down.  Also, a well-fitting N95 is truly uncomfortable and hard to wear for a full day's work. I've been successfully fit tested to 4 different models, and they all hurt within a few hours, and leave deep marks on my face by end of shift. 

Her biggest risk is going to be in the break room.  She needs a strategy for that.  A lot of peer bonding happens in the break room - I expect there will be social pressure to spend breaks eating with peers indoors.

ETA - I just saw the photo of the lab complex in your link.  It looks like there will be lots of very nice outdoor spaces for breaks.

Edited by wathe
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Dd18 is a first year student at Bowdoin, and we visited the Schiller Center when I dropped her off this fall. It's so gorgeous! Miles of wooded trails and beaches to explore, in addition to those brand new research facilities. If it's not raining I imagine they'll all be drawn outdoors for lunch breaks. I'm guessing the ventilation in those buildings is state-of-the-art as well.

I don't have a link for a KN95 but I'd trust a US manufacturer or something NIOSH approved. After the variants started circulating KN95s became my go-to mask and although they feel like much better protection than cloth masks they're pretty darn comfortable--I've worn them about 6 hours at a time. She could pack backup double masks in case she needs a break.

I tried several different brands of N95s and not a single one was wearable for more than a few minutes, but granted, I didn't get properly fitted. Too tight, made me feel claustrophobic and short of breath. 

You could order a few types of US-made or certified KN95s, if you can find US-made or certified brands, for her to try out. 

 

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1 hour ago, Acadie said:

Dd18 is a first year student at Bowdoin, and we visited the Schiller Center when I dropped her off this fall. It's so gorgeous! Miles of wooded trails and beaches to explore, in addition to those brand new research facilities. If it's not raining I imagine they'll all be drawn outdoors for lunch breaks. I'm guessing the ventilation in those buildings is state-of-the-art as well.

I don't have a link for a KN95 but I'd trust a US manufacturer or something NIOSH approved. After the variants started circulating KN95s became my go-to mask and although they feel like much better protection than cloth masks they're pretty darn comfortable--I've worn them about 6 hours at a time. She could pack backup double masks in case she needs a break.

I tried several different brands of N95s and not a single one was wearable for more than a few minutes, but granted, I didn't get properly fitted. Too tight, made me feel claustrophobic and short of breath. 

You could order a few types of US-made or certified KN95s, if you can find US-made or certified brands, for her to try out. 

 

From the pictures I have seen, yes, it looks amazing! Dd will be there for marine science (her research is on sea star cloning) and I’m sure they will spend lots of time out on the beaches. Her prof. Has already warned them to expect some 5am beach combing during low tides, which actually sounds perfectly lovely to me!

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7 hours ago, I talk to the trees said:

Also, dd has some underlying conditions that make her higher risk for complications of Covid, so anything we can do to add a little bit of protection is worth doing! Better to overprotect than underprotect in her situation.

I would do a typical hospital mask under the Happy Mask.  That way she can change the disposable one during the day if she needs to (I just feel that is much more sanitary).  

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Are you sure the facility won’t be providing masks? My DD recently participated in research at her university and before beginning, she had to take the mask they provided and have it tested. It was really interesting and involved spraying something in a bag that was over her head to see if she smelled it or not. They didn’t like the original mask and changed it to another one during testing. Then, they had the supervising professor order more of that kind of mask so they would be available to her later.

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3 hours ago, TrulySusan said:

Are you sure the facility won’t be providing masks? My DD recently participated in research at her university and before beginning, she had to take the mask they provided and have it tested. It was really interesting and involved spraying something in a bag that was over her head to see if she smelled it or not. They didn’t like the original mask and changed it to another one during testing. Then, they had the supervising professor order more of that kind of mask so they would be available to her later.

It sounds like you are describing a respirator fit test - example of equipment used.

I did a re-fit test for a new made-in-Canada (yay!) respirator yesterday.  The bitter spray tastes super bitter.  It's really gross, and the after-taste  for hours.

 

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I have been wearing KN95s for a full year, 8 hours a day, 5 days per week, because my household has two high risk folks, and my job, while not a typical "front line" job, requires interaction with people.  I add a small plastic s-hook at the back, pulling the earloops to meet at the back under my hair, to give a tighter fit, and yes, I fit test them. I still prefer that to the flat-fold N95s that are now available because of my hair, but if I were a guy with short hair, or a girl that wore a pony-tail, I'd go with the N95s like what someone linked above.

When we first came out of lockdown, I wore actual N95s, the cup-shaped ones, but they were terribly uncomfortable. I'd have worn them without complaint if I were working in a hospital with COVID patients, but I deemed my risk to be lower, so I switched to the KN95 flat-folds similar to the Honeywells shown above. 

I've seen a bazillion of the standard surgical paper-pleat masks, and most of the folks I see wearing them have quite a large gap around the nose and at the side gap/pocket that is supposed to lay flat on their cheek: it generally does not lay flat or make good contact with peoples' cheeks. The paper ones may filter decently, but they are only filtering what comes through the paper, not what comes around the edges. Most fabric ones are not a lot better. In fact, the most puling up and adjusting I see done by the general public is on fabric masks that don't fit snugly or that don't have a nose-bridge wire and tight elastic loops, so I'm not really sure how those would improve things when layered over a surgical mask. 

So, unless your daughter is thoroughly committed to wearing her masks scrupulously, continuously, no matter what anyone else is doing, I'm not sure it matters a whole lot, even though my vote is for one of the KN95s or the one linked above.  Her best protection, in my opinion, would come from a combination of:  1) her vaccine (since you said she'd be vaxxed), 2) being sure she is topped off on Vit D, Zinc, zinc-transporters like quercitin, CoQ10, and Egcg (can sub green tea if she likes it), Vit C, and melatonin (all of these are backed by numerous journal studies), and 3) if she is willing to, she uses some form of nasal irrigation/hygiene several times daily.  (There is a lot of literature on iodine-based nasal sprays killing virus in the mucosa and upper airways. 

And you'll need a plan if she 1) is exposed or 2) gets sick (a breakthrough case).  I'm in favor of sending meds with her based on whatever your PC agrees to, so she isn't at the whims of local doctors or pharmacy staff.  

 

 

 

 

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