If virus particles are smaller than the wave length of light, how is it possible that a mask can stop them?
It is true, viruses ARE smaller than the wave length of light. This means that you can't see them using a normal microscope, the light would just miss them entirely. This poses the question, if I hold up my mask to a lamp, and I can see the light passing through it, how can it possibly stop a virus which is even smaller?
The truth is masks do not work like sieves. Many people imagine that the filtration layer works by having very, very, (very) tiny holes, too big for a virus to pass through, but not too small that oxygen and carbon dioxide can’t pass through. If this were true, the comparatively galactic size of a grain of sand would be enough to block all the holes and suffocate you!
The filtration layer in the scale of the virus is more like an entire field of obstacles rather than a single layer that needs to be passed. Millions upon millions of strands make up this layer that the virus particles need to weave through to pass.
The secret is that these strands are all slightly charged with static electricity. As the filtration layer cannot conduct electricity, the constant rubbing generates a slight static charge that can’t be released. This static charge attracts all particles to them, dust, bacteria and most importantly viruses.
This is how the static charge in the filtration layer effectively protects you and stops even the tiniest particles smaller than the wavelength of light. This is also why it is very important to change your mask often or if it gets wet!
As the mask gets used, more and more particles will be stopped by the filtration layer. As this builds up, the strands cannot rub against each other effectively, weakening the static charge and weakening the filtration power. When the mask gets wet, as water conducts electricity, it discharges the static charge completely, also making it unable to filter effectively.
A little bit of rain or splash is ok, the outer most layer of the mask is rated to repel water and can handle the occasional drip. If your mask ever gets soaked through, then a new one is needed.
We recommend to keep your mask dry and to change after 6 hours of use to keep it at peak filtration efficiency.
You can browse our line of innovative ASTM level3 masks here.