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World Health Organisation offers advice on how and when to use facial masks

The World Health Organisation provides information on the use of masks such as nonwoven surgical masks for protection from vapour drops carrying the virus or other infectious materials.
The World Health Organisation, who yesterday declared a global flu pandemic as a result of the geographic spread of the virus known as Influenza A(H1N1) or ‘Swine Flu’, provides information on the use of masks such as nonwoven surgical masks for protection from vapour drops carrying the virus or other infectious materials.  The WHO advice states that in enclosed spaces or in close contact a person with influenza-like symptoms, the use of masks could reduce the transmission of influenza.

From individuals to health-care professionals, those looking to protect themselves or others from infection are increasingly looking to the benefits offered by single-use nonwoven surgical masks, which can either partially, or completely, cover the mouth and nose.  EDANA’s members in the medical offering medical devices such as surgical masks, and biological protective clothing, are a critical part of the chain helping medical professionals in protecting individuals from the threat of infection.

However, the effective use of these masks is tied to their proper use, as using a mask incorrectly may actually increase the risk of transmission, rather than reduce it.  The WHO advises that where masks are worn, proper use and disposal is essential to ensure they are potentially effective and to avoid any increase in risk of transmission associated with the incorrect use of masks.

The following information, provided by the WHO on correct use of masks derives from the practices in health-care settings:
  • Place mask carefully to cover mouth and nose and tie securely to minimise any gaps between the face and the mask
  • While in use, avoid touching the mask
    • Whenever you touch a used mask, for example when removing or washing, clean hands by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based handrub
  • Replace masks with a new clean, dry mask as soon as they become damp/humid
  • Do not re-use single-use masks
    • Discard single-use masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removing.
Unfortunately, this advice reflects the absence of an international standard on surgical masks.  EDANA believes that the European Standard EN 14683:2005, on which we have been working with member companies, has the potential to play such a role.

More information on the Influenza A(H1N1) strain is available at the dedicated WHO site:
EDANA, serves the nonwovens and related industries (previously known as the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association), and has 225 member companies in over 30 countries.  Its Mission is to create the foundation for sustainable growth of the nonwovens, absorbent hygiene products and related industries through active promotion, education and dialogue.  Information about other upcoming events can be found on

For further information please contact:
Abby Bailey, Marketing and Communications Director, edana
Telephone: +32 2 734 93 10
Fax: +32 2 733 35 18
EDANA | Avenue Herrmann Debroux 46-B-1160 Brussels, Belgium | Tel: +32 2 734 93 10