Why do we build our products the way we do?
Why does it matter?
Masks are made of a combination of non-woven fabrics each of which has a different purpose and reason for being included in the mask. Different mask styles have varying combinations of these materials.
Why are we telling you this? In today’s world where most of the global population is wearing a mask, it’s important to understand what you are buying so you can knowledgably purchase safe products.
We at Safety First believe that knowledge is power and each of us should have the information available to give us the power of keeping ourselves safe through smart, educated decisions.
Let’s discuss masks in more detail…..
Masks are made of what are called non-woven fabrics. Non-woven fabrics are basically short and long fibers bonded together by entangling fiber or filaments mechanically, thermally or chemically. This is known as a spunbond process. They are not made by weaving or knitting and do not require converting the fibers into yarn. Typically, a certain percentage of recycled fabrics are used in non-woven fabrics. The reason that the inner layer and outer layer of a medical mask is made of non-woven fabric is due to their absorbency, liquid repellence, resilience, stretch, softness, strength, flame retardancy, filtration and use as a bacterial barrier and sterility.
The filtration layer of a mask is another type of non-woven fabric called meltblown because of the specific process that creates this non-woven fabric. Melt-blown non-woven fabrics are characterized by small-diameter fibers which offer excellent filtration properties, thermal insulation and absorption capacity.
There are also non-woven fabrics called SMS which is a spunbond-meltblown-spundbond combination fabric. Non-woven fabrics also come in various weights referred to as gsm. GSM is a metric measurement meaning grams per square meter. It is how much 1 square meter of fabric weighs and the higher the GSM number the denser the fabric will be. The thicker the fabric, the more protection it provides in various medical and isolations situations.
For masks it is like a sandwich of one or two spunbond non-woven layers that provide the mask shape and protect the inner filtration layer combined with a layer of non-woven meltblown material that serves as the filtration layer and captures microscopic unwanted particles like viruses and bacteria. In addition, the gsm per layer is considered in the overall design of the mask. You can see these details listed in the mask products we sell.
Interestingly, the use of non-woven fabrics for medical purposes goes all the way back to World War II which precipitated a big demand for easily-deployed medical products. As the non-woven fabric technology gradually advanced, non-woven fabrics proved to be superior to woven products in terms of disposability, adaptability, effectiveness, filtration and cost. Innovation in these non-woven fabrics have come a long way since World War II.
Today, non-woven fabrics:
- Help mitigate the current riskier medical environments due to drug-resistant bacteria, increases in numbers of blood-borne diseases, worsening viral threats, etc.
- Can be tailored to changing specifications
- Can meet increasing demands for more environmentally-responsible/friendly disposable products
- Have almost limitless applications for healthcare products: masks, surgical gowns; bedding; dressings; surgical drapes; implantables like sutures, orthopedic & tissue structures, etc.
The characteristics to look for when buying a disposable mask:
- At least two layers of spunbond non-woven fabric one for the outer layer and one for the inner layer
- At least one layer of meltblown non-woven fabric for filtration
Like any product, masks can be made with high-end safe materials or with low-end less-effective materials. We see masks in the market which do not have a meltblown filtration layer or basically has a paper layer rather than a meltblown layer. We see products made with the thinnest spunbond material and no filtration layer. We see a lot of what we would call ‘fake’ masks as they are not built to keep you safe.
We created our hand sanitizer based on a significant amount of research. We discovered a number of facts that were surprising about hand sanitizer:
- The fact that liquid or spray sanitizer is more effective than gel.
- The significant difference in effectiveness between Ethanol alcohol, which is used in the majority of hand sanitizers, and Isopropyl alcohol.
- That 70% alcohol is more effective than 91%> alcohol.
There are a number of studies which compare gel vs. liquid hand sanitizers. The research shows that liquid sanitizer is faster acting, at a rate of <15 seconds, whereas gel sanitizers require up to 30> seconds to eliminate viral or bacterial content. Gel hand sanitizers tend to make the hands feel sticky so most people wipe their hands off after rubbing the sanitizer on. If this is done before 30 seconds, the sanitizer is rendered ineffective.
Scientifically, the effectiveness of alcohol as an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal disinfectant increases as the molecular weight increases. Therefore, isopropyl alcohols, such as IPA, are more effective than ethanol alcohols. IPA is less drying for the skin than ethanol alcohol which is why it is used in cosmetics. The reason most sanitizers are made with ethanol is that is it cheaper than IPA.
The percentage of alcohol in sanitizer is crucial to its effectiveness. Isopropyl alcohol, particularly in solutions between 60% and 90% alcohol with 10% – 40% purified water, is rapidly antimicrobial against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Once alcohol concentrations drop below 50%, usefulness for disinfection drops sharply. Solutions more than 91% IPA do kill bacteria, but require longer contact times for disinfection, and enable spores to lie in a dormant state without being killed. As a result of all of this research, we formulated the Safety First hand sanitizer with 70% IPA and 26% aqua which is purified water.
Hand sanitizer is used on a frequent basis in this current environment and can cause severe drying of the hands. We add tocopheryl acetate or vitamin E to our sanitizer to moisturize the hands and counter-balance the effect of the alcohol. Tocopheryl acetate consists of tocopheryl (which is the vitamin E part) and acetic acid. It’s actually the ester of acetic acid and tocopherol, a pure form of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an oil-soluble nutrient and is hence heavier than water-soluble products which is how it restores lost moisture in dry or damaged skin.
Safety First also adds mel extract which is also called honey extract as it is derived from honey. We add the honey extract to provide further protection for the skin. One of the most widely recognized properties of honey is its ability to help fight against skin infections. Studies also show that honey has antimicrobial properties.
Our sanitizer is naturally fragranced in 10 different scents including sandalwood, rose, strawberry, tea tree, peach, fresh mint, lavender, citrus tree, musk and melon. This leaves the hands smelling fragrant rather than of alcohol. Due to the overall formulation, you will find that our spray sanitizer evaporates from the hands quickly and leaves your hands moisturized and fragrant.
We partnered with 3 high-end cosmetic companies to manufacture our hand sanitizer with a quality control person from Safety First in each factory. This gives us the ability to produce large quantities to meet the current market demand. We produce 5 different sizes – 60 ml, 100 ml, 200, ml, 300 ml and 500 ml. The 60 ml (which is 2 ounces) is just right for purse or pocket and the 500 ml (17 ounces) works well in high traffic areas such as offices or as a re-fill for the smaller sizes.
LATEX VS NITRILE VS VINYL GLOVES………WHICH TO CHOOSE?
Now that wearing gloves has gone beyond the medical and food industries and into the general population, we field many questions each day about the various types of gloves. When deciding between vinyl, latex and nitrile gloves, it can be confusing trying to determine which type of glove is the ideal choice. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of glove so you can choose the right type of glove for your intended use of the glove.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Vinyl
Gloves can be manufactured from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). The main advantage of vinyl gloves is that they are latex-free and therefore they don’t cause any skin allergies or reactions. Vinyl offers standard protection when handling most chemicals and it’s soft and comfortable to wear. Comparatively, vinyl is the least favorable fabric or material for manufacturing gloves. The main reason for this is because vinyl is less durable than latex or nitrile, and less sensitive to touch than the other fabrics or materials. Vinyl is not ideal when handling most organic solvents and water-based solutions. Modern advancements in vinyl technology have enhanced its comfort, durability, tactile sensitivity, elongation/flexibility, and strength.
Attributes of vinyl include:
- Have a looser fit
- Are good for short-term, low-risk tasks
- Are the most economic option
- Have anti-static properties
- Are best for use with non-hazardous materials
- Are lightly powdered to make it easier to put on
Advantages And Disadvantages of Latex
Latex gloves are made from natural rubber and are intended for incidental contact. One of the main advantages of latex gloves is that they are very tactile and are highly preferred for sensitive applications like surgery. Another practical benefit of latex gloves is that very durable, flexible, and comfortable to wear. Latex gloves are an excellent choice when dealing with biological and water-based materials. The main disadvantage of latex gloves is that they can cause skin allergies and reactions. Also, latex offers little chemical protection and is ineffective when handling organic solvents. It’s also hard to detect lacerations or puncture holes in latex. Powdered latex gloves can cause additional health issues due to skin reactions and allergies caused by the latex and also by the lubricating powders.
Attributes of latex include:
- Fit like a second skin
- Have a high level of touch sensitivity
- Are good for wearing for an extended amount of time
- Work well for high-risk situations involving infectious material
- Are cost-effective
- Are lightly powdered, making it easier to put on
- Are very elastic and strong
- Are biodegradable
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Nitrile
Nitrile gloves are latex-free and are extra strong despite being thin and quite sensitive to touch. These gloves are suitable for general use because they offer greater protection and are chemical resistant. Nitrile gloves are soft and comfortable to wear and they offer the best fit of the various glove types for the wearer. Nitrile gloves can be used safely for both incidental and extended contact. Nitrile has a higher puncture resistance than any other glove material. Nitrile also has a better chemical resistance than latex or vinyl gloves. One disadvantage of nitrile gloves is that they have less tactile sensitivity than latex gloves and the synthetic nitrile rubber polymer is significantly more expensive to produce than vinyl.
Attributes of nitrile include:
- Are most puncture resistant
- Have a high level of sensitivity
- Mold to your hand for a great fit
- Are good for wearing an extended amount of time
- Work well for high-risk situations involving infectious material
- Resist many chemicals
- Have a long shelf life
- Are available in blue or black to help identify if the glove has been punctured
We manufacture all three types of gloves – vinyl, latex and nitrile medical gloves – in our factories in Vietnam under the brand name Safety First.
The certifications of Safety First include the United States Food and Drug Administration certification (FDA) and Vinacontrol certification as well as all other legally required testing and certifications by Vietnam law.
History of Surgical Gowns:
The use of surgical gowns and drapes dates back from a century. Their primary purpose was to protect the sterile surgical zones from microbial invasion. Most of the items were made of a loosely woven, readily permeable, reusable fabric generically known as muslin. Surgical gowns with impermeable areas and edges will block the transfer of bacteria, viruses, infections, blood borne pathogens, and other harmful agents and chemicals to and from the patient. Surgical gowns are widely considered to be the foremost item of protective equipment today. Nonetheless, surgical gowns and surgical apparel have not been in standard use for very long. Surgical gowns and apparel did not come into regular use in the surgical profession until the 1800s. During those times, surgeons conducted their operations in auditorium or amphitheater-style rooms where the operation would take place in the center and the audience would sit in the surrounding seats. Surgeons would typically wear their street clothes and occasionally wear something similar to a butcher’s apron to protect his clothing from stains. In fact, surgeons typically conducted operations with bare hands and non-sterile surgical instruments and supplies.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the surgical world took notice of antiseptics, sterile equipment, and protective clothing. This revolution was largely due to the pioneering research of Joseph Lister. Lister used carbolic acid solution to sterilize surgical instruments, surgical incisions, and dressings in an effort to prevent gangrene and other infections. He published numerous articles on the Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery describing these procedures in 1867. He also encouraged surgeons to wear clean gloves and wash their hands before and after operations. His research, articles, and life work led to the rise of sterile surgery.
Types of gowns used in patient care:
Usually packaged as sterile products or designed to be sterilized
Some are disposable and others are made of fabric that is labeled as washable for multiple use
Come in various sizes, including one-size-fits-all
Made of fluid-resistant materials to reduce the transfer of body fluids
not sold as sterile products
usually intended to protect the wearer from the transfer of microorganisms and only small amounts of body fluids
Choosing between surgical gowns and isolation gowns
When working in a hospital or other healthcare environment:
Surgical gown should be chosen when performing surgery or other sterile procedure. Isolation gown should be chosen when caring for a patient in isolation.
What should be known before using surgical gowns?
- Select gown materials based on the activity and the amount of body fluid that is expected.
- Remove surgical gowns promptly when they are soiled.
- If blood or body fluids soak through a surgical gown, remove it and any soiled clothing underneath and immediately wash skin.
- Never reuse disposable surgical gowns.
- Never wash or disinfect disposable surgical gowns. Never share surgical gowns with other users.