Personal protection from bad air to face covering for cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the Curve
The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSL) sustainability sale of facemasks for clean air prove provides nascent use as a personal protection equipment (PPE) in the fight against COVID-19. EHSL hosted the sale of facemasks in December 2019. The brand Vogmasks sold for only $5 (typically retails for $33), which quickly became our most popular event for that year (and maybe ever!). The Vogmasks were sold to increase the availability of reusable filtering masks when Utah’s air quality is at its worst, the winter inversion. Now, those same masks can be used to protect against COVID-19, in compliance with the new CDC recommendations.
Vogmasks provide “95% Particle Penetration Filtering Efficiency” and “>99.9% Viral and Bacterial Filtering Efficiency.” They are rated N95, however they have not been certified by any agency for work places (that also requires a mask fitting). Vogmask also notes they are meant to protect the wearer from these particles, and not the other way around. If you are sick, Vogmask is not made for preventing that spread and you should use a surgical mask.
If using your Vogmask to prevent contracting coronavirus, it’s important that you wash your hands immediately before and after putting the mask on, making sure it’s fitted correctly on your face, and not touch the mask or your face frequently to adjust it. It’s also imperative to clean your mask by wiping or spraying it with >61% alcohol solution every time you use it. Vogmask recommends not washing with soap and water, as washing it more than once a month may deteriorate the filter. If you must, hand wash it with mild detergent, without submerging.
Sydney Boogaard and the SCIF
Sydney Boogaard, a Univeristy of Utah senior who had received a grant from the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) through the The Sustainability Office, made the mask sale possible. She is a sustainability powerhouse, double-majoring in environmental & sustainability studies and health, society & policy, and served as College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Ambassador. She said, “I am just so grateful that the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) committee and The Sustainability Office supported my proposal and granted me the funds to provide the Vogmasks. I wanted these masks to go to individuals within the University community who were most at risk and who did not have the means to purchase the masks at full-price. I believe that remains the same, whether it is air quality concerns or the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“I’m incredibly grateful to EHSL, Sydney, and U of U Sustainability Office for the sale of the facemasks. I originally bought these for pollution protection. However, the masks are proving essential as a COVID-19 protection. I’m at ease knowing my family was better prepared at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank You!”, said Peter Strohmeyer, Senior Web Designer for EHSL. He bought two of them. One he give to his step-daughter, for her work trip to New York in early March, and the other to his spouse, who is undergoing chemotherapy at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Note: Unfortunately, Vogmasks at full price are completely sold out online, but you can sign up with your email to receive notification when they are restocked. The CDC also provides a guide on making your own mask.