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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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Brackets designed to make masks more comfortable could come at a risk

TORONTO – Many Canadians have struggled with foggy glasses, smeared makeup and discomfort while wearing masks, and some have turned to “mask brackets” or “mask support frames,” which are designed to alleviate some of these discomforts. But one expert says thinks Canadians should be cautious about these using products.

These products cost anywhere from $ 14 for a pack of 20 to $ 25 for a pack of four. They are usually made of silicone or plastic and go underneath the wearer’s mask. The companies that sell these products claim that they can improve breathability, reduce makeup smearing and prevent glasses from fogging up.

Dr. Catherine Clase is an associate professor at McMaster University’s department of medicine. She is also a member of the university’s Center of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials and one of the co-leads of clothmasks.ca.

Clase told CTVNews.ca over the phone on Thursday that these mask brackets make her “a little bit concerned” about their possible negative impact on the mask efficiency, which refers to how well the mask works at blocking particles.

“The idea seems to be to minimize points of contact with your face, “said Clase.” The problem with minimizing points of contact with our face is that of course it’s the contact around the edge of the mask that is sealing the mask to our face. So, I think it might be a difficult engineering feat to keep the mask off our faces and yet have a really good edge seal. Unless you actually test these things, I think there’s a possibility that they actually make the mask efficiency worse. “

There’s been a lack of studies looking into the potential benefits or risks of wearing mask brackets, given that these devices are so new.

Health Canada currently does not have any guidelines regarding mask brackets. A spokesperson for Health Canada did not answer CTVNews.ca’s questions about the brackets and only pointed to Health Canada’s webpage on non-medical masks, which has no specific information about such products.

“As for the marketing, if a consumer has a concern, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Competition Bureau or provincial / territorial consumer affairs departments, “Health Canada said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Mask support frames should not be confused with mask braces, which are devices that go on top of the wearer’s mask rather than For those who wear glasses, Clase says mask braces can be effective at preventing glasses from fogging up. These devices are designed to tighten the seal that forms around the wearer’s face and have even earned the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

“Mask braces have been tested and do seem to improve the efficiency of masks because they’re pushing on your face. “

For those who want some distance between their face and the mask in order to reduce discomfort or makeup smearing, Clase suggests looking into structured masks, although notes that they may be more difficult to find commercially.

“There are masks… that are made with a 3D design or a box design that holds the material off the face,” said Clase.

If you insist on using a mask bracket, there are ways to make it as safe as possible.

“I would say that the mask bracket has to be small enough that it fits completely within the mask, so the mask is making that good seal around the nose, around the cheeks, and under the chin, “said Clase. “The mask should really be in contact with skin at the periphery or at the edge of the mask all the way around.”

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