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Master your mask

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 Fine dust is a big problem here.

 More and more days have offered warnings of bad air quality due to elevated fine dust levels than ever before. It makes outdoor activities difficult and, for some, dangerous. 

 When bad enough, official notices advise people from going outside. But, what if staying inside is not an option? The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety suggests wearing a face mask and offers advice for what seems now an essential outdoor item.

 Q: There are so many different masks! Which one should I buy?

 A: Look for the mark of "sanitary aid" and especially look for the symbol "KF," a measurement of efficiency in blocking particles. A mask without these two designations might not sufficiently function for fine dust pre-vention. 

 Q: What does "KF" mean? Also, what are the numbers next to it?

 A: "KF" means "Korea Filter." The numbers after "KF" refer to the mask's effectiveness for the wearer breathing in fine dust. For example, "KF80" means the mask can filter more than 80 percent fine particles the size of an average of 0.6㎛ (micrometers). "KF94" and "KF99" can filter more than 94 and 99 percent of particles with the average size of 0.4㎛ and so on. The bigger number means a mask has been designed more finely, which could make it harder to breathe through. It is recommended to buy masks above "KF80" according to one's breathing condition and the level of fine dust. 

 

 Q: How to wear a mask properly? 

 A: Wear it tightly to ensure the most complete coverage. A bendable wire in the middle of the mask can be adjusted according to nose shape. Extend the mask's two strings toward the ears to fully cover mouth, nose and chin. 

 Q: Are masks washable and reusable? 

 A: This is not recommended. A used mask has already been contaminated by fine dust and germs. Additionally, fine dust blocking capabilities might be reduced if washed. 

 Q: Would putting a handkerchief underneath a mask be more effective for fine dust prevention? 

 A: This will reduce the mask's ability to block fine dust particles as it will not adhere as well to the wearer's face. 

 Q: People with glasses may find a mask uncomfortable. Should they wear contact lenses instead? 

 A: Wear glasses. The dust in contact with contact lenses could dry out eyes quickly, resulting in inflamation and itchiness.