Do you still have to wear a mask if you’ve received the COVID-19 booster?

(NEXSTAR) – One estimated at 41.9 million people in the United States received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are in this group, should you always wear a mask in public areas?

The need to wear a mask depends on who is around you, according to the country’s top infectious disease specialist.

“Indoor type settings with the family you know is vaccinated, the people you know, you might feel safe without wearing a mask and having dinner, having a reception,” Dr Anthony Fauci, medical adviser in leader of the nation at a press conference. “But when you are in a public and collective place where you do not know the vaccination status of those affected, it is very safe to wear a mask, and that is what I do.”

If you’re going to be in one of these public places, Fauci explains that it’s okay to lower your mask when eating or drinking. If you do not do any of these activities, the mask should stay on.

What type of mask should I wear?

Like the need to wear a mask, it depends on your situation, but health officials say it should cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly so that there is no space on the sides of your face.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says to choose masks with two or more layers and a nasal thread to prevent air from escaping through the top. He suggests holding your mask to check if it’s blocking light, which means the fabric will likely filter out more particles.

If you want extra protection, experts also suggest wearing two masks or pairing them with a mask installer to make sure they don’t leave any gaps.

If supplies are available, people can opt for N95 disposable masks for personal use, according to the CDC. Such masks are considered to be the most effective in blocking viral particles. The agency previously said N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, but supplies have since increased.

There are masks designed and tested to work at a constant level, According to the CDC. These masks have labels to indicate which standard they meet.

Toxins found in disposable masks

In 2020, production facilities, mostly in China, produced more than 52 billion masks – some up to 450 million per day. Although these are “single-use” items, estimates show it could take up to 450 years for face masks to degrade. To make matters worse, a recent study reveals that these masks can spread harmful toxins into the environment.

Researchers at Swansea University have found significant amounts of toxins (lead, copper and antimony) coming out of several masks after exposure to water. Experts are now questioning whether plastic masks are safe enough for people to use every day. In addition, given the number of masks that do not go in the trash, these results are alarming.

“We all must continue to wear masks because they are essential to end the pandemic. But we also urgently need more research and regulations on the production of masks, so that we can reduce the risks to the environment and human health, ”says lead researcher Dr Sarper Sarp of the College of Swansea engineering in a university outing.

To learn more about the latest research, Click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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