Disposable face masks used in hospitals have been assessed for the protection afforded the patient and the wearer by challenges of simulated natural conditions of stress. Operating theatre masks made of synthetic materials allow the wearer to breathe through the masks, and these have been shown to protect the patient well but the wearer slightly less. Cheaper paper masks are worn for ward duties, and of these only the Promask protected in area in front of the wearer: air does not pass through this mask, expired air is prevented from passing forward, and the wearer breathes unfiltered air. All the other paper masks tested allowed many bacteria-laden particles to pass through them.
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