Urethane Masks under Fire despite Expert Advice

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, Feb. 9 (Jiji Press)--The use of face masks other than those made of nonwoven fabrics as a measure against the novel coronavirus is being slammed by some in Japan, despite experts denying claims that they are insufficient in preventing infections.

At a nail salon in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, customers wearing urethane masks are required to put on nonwoven masks offered by the store over concerns that the former “cannot ensure safety of customers and employees.” Some hair salons refuse visits by customers not wearing nonwoven masks.

Scaremongering claims that urethane masks are “totally useless,” and that people wearing them “should not come near others” are often found on the internet, and those peddling such messages are referred to as the “urethane mask police.”

Such claims are apparently based on a simulation run on the Fugaku supercomputer by a research team including government-affiliated research institute Riken. The simulation found that masks made of urethane or cloth are not as effective in blocking droplets from people’s mouths as nonwoven masks. However, the study also showed that urethane and cloth masks are more effective than face shields and mouth guards.

“It’s just a difference in features, and the simulation results don’t mean (urethane masks) shouldn’t be used,” a Riken representative said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press