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What is ply in a mask?

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Surgical masks are very popular all year round in East Asian countries like China, Japan, and South Korea to protect from spreading airborne diseases and to prevent breathing in airborne dust particles created by air pollution as well as not to breathe in harmful particles.

These masks are made with non-woven fabric that has better bacteria filtration and air permeability while remaining more likely to stay in place than any woven cloth. 

The most commonly used material is polypropylene that should at least have 20 or 25 grams per square meter (gsm) in density. Other masks materials are polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, or polyester.

Surgical masks are made up of a multi-layered structure by primarily covering a layer of textiles with non-woven bonded fabric on both sides. 

A ply indicates the thickness or layer of the mask. A ply is a layer of material that has been combined with other layers to provide strength. 

The number of layers is indicated by prefixing a number, for example, 3-ply, indicating material composed of 3 layers.

Here is the different ply in a mask:

The 1 ply face mask is made mostly from paper pulp. It also comes with extra soft cotton loops are designed for maximum comfort. It is ideal for general usage like food processing as well as industrial use but not for medical use.

The 2 ply mask is excellent for beauty salon and food preparation use and usually for hygienic and sanitation purposes. It doesn’t have a filter layer thus this is useless against haze, viruses, and bacteria.

The 3 ply mask is the recommended ply to help reduce the spread of viruses, germs, and bacteria. The 3 Ply face mask contains a high-level static filtration non-woven middle layer to effectively block micro dust and bacteria. 

The 4 ply mask is made of 100% non-woven Polypropylene (PP) which is soft, non-irritating, fluid repelling and free from fiberglass with the addition of a carbon layer which filters bad odors as well as organic vapors. It has a high bacteria filtration efficiency (BFE) of 99.8% at 2.7 microns and it has a low breathing resistance that offers excellent protection against airborne and splatters of saliva and blood.


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