Plexiglass Protection: How Safe is a Face Shield Really?

You can see more and more people with Plexiglas protection on their faces. How safe is the Face Shield alternative to masks?

Plexiglass protection becomes an accessory for the corona crisis. In the supermarket, in the line to the ice cream shop, yes, you can even see them in the car: people who have sealed themselves off behind a kind of plastic pane.

What you otherwise only know from welding professions and science fiction films, you can now see live and in color – you just have to go out on the street. There the fabric masks now seem to have competition from Plexiglas protection. Face Shields is the correct expression for the other mask, which rather resembles a small window pane that you can teasingly strap around your face.

Plexiglass protection does not meet the mask requirement

What is the plexiglass protection all about? How well can face shields protect against the coronavirus – and are they even considered a mask? "Ökotest", among others, now provides an answer to these questions.

The most important thing first of all: Plexiglass protection is not subject to the current mask requirement in most federal states. So you also have to wear a cloth mask. The exception to this is currently Hessen, where a visor is also accepted as mouth and nose protection.

Face shields can only protect against the coronavirus to a limited extent

The plastic discs have advantages. In contrast to normal masks, they cover the entire face – and thus also protect the eyes. The coronavirus has now also been linked to conjunctivitis, and infection through the eyes seems possible. So if you cough directly, viruses stick to the plexiglass protection. However, this brings us to the disadvantage: Only then can the face shields protect.

However, the face shield is open at the bottom and to the side. Only direct particles can be caught, not particles flying around. The Robert Koch Institute therefore warns: "The use of visors can therefore not, in our opinion, be viewed as an equivalent alternative to MNB." After all, a mouth and nose cover should be as close as possible – not least for external protection. Above all, the substance should represent a barrier for its own viruses.

New study confirms: Stay away from Plexiglas masks

US researchers at Florida Atlantic University have now also investigated how well the mask alternative really protects. And once again came to the conclusion: the visors do not offer sufficient protection. The scientists compared face shields, cloth masks, masks with valves and medical masks and found that face shields shield the aerosols at first, but then spread around the shield in the room and ultimately the wearer inhales them. According to the study, the masks with valves do not offer sufficient protection either, as they do not filter the escaping air. Cloth masks and medical masks do not offer 100 percent security either, but they are much better.

If you still feel safer with a face shield, you should resort to double protection: the visor can be combined with a face mask. This covers the eyes, mouth and nose. But nobody should forget the most important rule. Because that is still: keep your distance.

sources used: RKI, Ökotest, Florida Atlantic University study