Face mask reuse behaviours in Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic
Zhang, John (author)
© John Zhang, 2021. All rights reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright heron may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means – graphics, electronic, or mechanical including photocopying, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems – without written permission of the author.
Background: Mask-wearing in public spaces has become ubiquitous for most people in developed countries due to the ongoing pandemic. One key aspect of the protectiveness of masks is how many times it is used before disposing of (in the case of surgical or disposable masks) or washed (a cloth or reusable mask). Assessing mask reuse levels in key demographics can help us identify which groups are reusing masks more, and targeted educational campaigns can be accomplished which would hopefully lead to reduced mask reuse. Methods: The online self-administered survey was created using Survey Monkey and distributed via Reddit, Youtube, the front desk of a local community center, and to associates of personal contacts. The survey consists of 13 questions which consisted of demographic, behavioural and open ended questions. Chi-square statistical tests were used to analyze the data. Results: Overall, 99.5% of the 185 respondents wore face masks: 51.8% wore reusable, 34.2% wore disposable, and 16.2% equally wore disposable and reusable masks. Regarding frequency of use, a higher proportion (27%) wore their masks 3 - 4 times before disposing or washing. Frequency of reuse at 0 - 1, twice and 5+ times were equally distributed at 24.3%. The main reason for reuse was a lack of time (53%) followed by environmental reasons (28%). More than 50% of those surveyed believed that msks could be washed indefinitely without having the performance affected. This study found no statistically significant associations between several major demographic categories and level of mask reuse: (i) gender, P = 0.253, (ii) age, P = 0.631, (iii) education level, P = 0.284, and (iv) occupational field, P = 0.395. Conclusion: Most of the Canadian population are wearing masks during the COVID19 pandemic and most people dispose of, or wash, their masks after 2-4 uses. Demographic variables of age, gender, occupation and education do not affect mask reuse levels. This information can aid in education efforts in the future by widening the scope of target audiences.
Not peer reviewed