Delta Air Lines Bans Face Masks “With Exhaust Valves” For Flyers
Delta Air Lines is adding another layer to their already strict face covering policy, effective immediately. The airline is banning all face masks that come with an exhaust valve. According to scientists, the popular masks may not be as effective in protecting passengers from the COVID-19 virus.
Although their face mask policy is already strict, Delta Air Lines is adding a new level of complexity to protect flyers aboard crowded aircraft. In a subtle change on their website, Delta notes: “Any mask with an exhaust valve is not approved as an acceptable face mask for customers traveling on any Delta operated flight.”
Why Face Coverings with Exhaust Valves May Be Less Effective
Throughout the novel Coronavirus pandemic, many people have opted for face coverings with exhaust valves. These masks were designed with industrial uses in mind, and claim to offer N95 protection. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, N95 masks filter a minimum of 95 percent of airborne particles.
However, health officials say that these types of masks may be ineffective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, face masks which have a “one-way valve designed for easier breathing” can spread droplets out of the mask. For someone who is unknowingly carrying the novel Coronavirus (either as an asymptomatic carrier or as a new infection), these masks can endanger other people in their vicinity.
Moreover, experts agree that face masks with any sort of holes – including exhaust vales – may be ineffective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Doctors say that while wearing these types of masks can protect the user, it’s potentially dangerous for everyone around them.
“In the spirit of ‘your mask protects me and my mask protects you,’ a mask with a valve virtually makes that impossible,” microbiologist Jessica Malaty Rivera told Healthline. “If you don’t have anything filtering what’s going out, it’s kind of like your mouth is an open-air exhaust. And that’s the danger.”
Delta’s Strict Face Mask Policy Gets Stricter
Throughout the pandemic, Delta emerged as a leader in mandatory face mask usage aboard aircraft. In addition to making face coverings mandatory, airline leaders say they have put over 100 people on their internal ban list for refusing to wear a covering. The airline has also provided a “Clearance-to-Fly” option for those who claim they cannot wear a mask.
The tightening coincides with American Airline’s enhanced policy, which became effective on July 29, 2020. Their policy states all flyers at least two years old must wear a face covering from the moment they enter their arrival airport, to the time they leave their departure airport.