There are video’s going around saying DO NOT USE HEPA VACUUM BAGS for making DIY PPE masks as they can contain fiberglass and one even claimed Asbestos.
While that may be true about fiberglass in some filters used in the automotive or furnace filters, vacuum cleaner bags DON’T use fiberglass and definitely NOT asbestos.
HEPA came about in vacuum cleaners because it helped allergy sufferers so using something that could spew particles in to the air, especially irritants, glass, and ASBESTOS, isn’t exactly a good idea.
HEPA, is an acronym for “High Efficiency Particulate Air” or “High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance.”There are two main types detailed below.
The main differences between HEPA-type and True HEPA (the gold standard of filtration) filter are the filtration efficiency.
In general, HEPA-type filter has a 99% efficiency rate of capturing particles as small as 2 microns. True HEPA filter up the game with a better 99.97% efficiency rate at particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Numbers, and VERY small numbers, always confuse me so I’ll try to explain them.
2 microns is 0.002 of a mm. Which is “small”.
0.3 microns is 0.0003 of a mm.
Which is soooooo tiny it manages to stop most particles.
Only Corvid-19 is way smaller than that!!!
“Mr. Average” coronavirus particles is around 125 nm or 0.000125 of a mm.
Does that mean it passes straight through a HEPA FILTER?
In theory YES, if the HEPA was a single layer.
Only they aren’t. They are LAYERED!
So in real life, YES they do stop most viruses.
HEPA filters can catch nearly 100% of 0.0001mm ultra-fine particles but are only TESTED to 0.0003 of a mm by HEPA standards.
So does that render you completely safe from the virus?
Nope, there is no such thing as being 100% safe!
Especially if you are doing table top PPE like we are.
This virus is transmitted as a particle carried by moisture in a person’s cough. So you touch something that has been coughed on – it’s on your hands.
Or, if droplets get into your eyes, you’ve got it.
Or, if you rub your now contaminated hands on your face or rub your eyes,
Or, if you eat something without washing your hands, it can get into you.
So why bother with a mask? Seriously?
HEPA WORKS BUT NEEDS HELP, YOUR HELP!
You could for instance cover your eyes wearing wrap round glasses,
DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE is a huge one as adjusting face masks is so easy to do without thinking about things.
Wearing impervious gloves helps, but above all that:
WASH YOUR HANDS
WITH SOAP AND WATER!
Don’t just rely on alcohol rubs or no soap hand gels.
The why is soap bursts the individual virus’s protective shell.
Clean surfaces regularly with disinfectant or even soapy water.
We use “baby bleach” (aka Milton) in a fine spray bottle (mainly because I trust bleach) but normal kitchen and washroom cleaners are said to be just as effective. CAUTION ELECTRICITY AND LIQUIDS DON’T MIX”
We also wipe down stuff you bring into your home and, where appropriate, discard external packaging.
Do I need to say don’t bleach your fruit and veg? I hope not!
We do however run it under the tap, pat dry, and leave to dry before racking it.
Why do all this?
A blob of virus will survive well on hard and soft surfaces.
Some ex-spurts saying in ideal conditions, over 72 hours.
Impervious surfaces being the worst culprits i.e. metal, plastics, glass.
The why is the virus needs it’s bubble of water to survive and once dry, it dies.
This is all CBRN Decontamination 101 folks.
Let alone good housekeeping.
So where am I getting all this data from?
The Internet, NASA, CDC, WHO, NHS, and official bodies in the medical world who are falling over themselves to inform you.
Vacuum cleaner bag science is extensive as well as is the details about HEPA filtration. A few universities have done studies on DIY PPE recently. This is all part of researching your subject and something I did a lot of before starting to make masks.
Yet, having said all that, being a prepper I had laid in a stock of FFP3 masks.
That’s equivalent to N98 in US terms.
We use them when in enclosed spaces as social distancing is NOT the UK’s sheeple way of doing things. Stupidity they do well. Anything else seems to much bother and involves thinking.
Distance is king in combat and this is a fight only against a much more cold blooded killer. So, keep your distance to more than social spacing (2m), cover up, wash often, and PLEASE download a basic guide to CBRN and decontamination.
And yes, I’m still going to be making DIY masks as the proper PPE has been price gouged above our means and largely unavailable at this time.
Will they work as well as the “proper gear”.
Probably not but something is better than NOTHING!
As always, don’t take my word for anything.
Do your own research as that’s the responsible thing to do.