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Is self-assessing fit reliable?

It is considered that a high-filtration mask should offer better protection than a surgical or fabric mask. But it's not all that simple. To be highly protective, these masks must properly fit the user. Unfortunately, users aren’t good at assessing whether their mask fits. Often they use a self-assessment method to check fit, but this method is truly unreliable and increases the risk of becoming infected.

In medicine, a different method is used to test masks: a substance with a certain taste is released into the air around the mask wearers. What's the point? If they can taste the substance, it indicates that the mask doesn’t fit well. For example, an aroma diffuser can be used to aerolise saccharin dissolved in water into an enclosed space. The users make sure they can taste this without a mask on, and then they taste it with a mask donned. The wearer can move the diffuser around so that its vapor touches all edges of the mask.

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