why do disposable masks have a blue face?

why do disposable masks have a blue face?

A statue decked out in a disposable mask on the Place du Trocadéro in Paris on May 4.

© Christophe Ena
A statue decked out in a disposable mask on the Place du Trocadéro in Paris on May 4.

The color serves in particular as a guide to help the mask fit in the right direction.

Question asked by Colette on 08/11/2020


The surgical mask (disposable), traditionally used in the operating theater, is now widely used as a protective measure against Covid-19. According to the National Research and Safety Institute for the prevention of industrial accidents and occupational diseases (INRS), the surgical mask “Is intended to prevent the projection towards the entourage of the droplets emitted by the one wearing the mask. It also protects the wearer against the projections of droplets emitted by a person opposite. On the other hand, it does not protect against the inhalation of very small particles suspended in the air ”.

Most disposable surgical masks have a blue side and a white side. You ask us if there is a reason for this.

It should first be noted that surgical masks are made of three layers: an internal (white) more absorbent, a filter layer in the middle, and an external (blue). The latter has a greater or lesser degree of impermeability depending on the type of mask (type I, II or IIR).

Identify the direction of wearing the mask

Pascal Jean, pharmacist and technical and scientific director at Didactic, a company selling medical equipment, explains that the color blue is an indicator: “It makes it possible to identify the direction in which the mask is put in place, the blue side having to be on the outside. This makes it possible to have a colorimetric reference. ” The General Directorate of Health (DGS) supplements: “The colored side is less messy and carries the hooks of the elastic bands as well as the folds, and the white side is more comfortable.”

No obligation

Why do manufacturers of surgical masks produce masks that are blue, and not another color? Pascal Jean indicates that this choice is not imposed: “There is no obligation, but it turns out everyone does this. Particularly because the raw materials supplied, the rolls of non-woven fabric, are at better prices when the colors are standardized. ” The DGS evokes a more psychological argument: “These are medical masks, in colors to match the outfits in the operating room, blue and green being more soothing than other colors.”

This does not prevent some suppliers from using different color codes. This is for example the case of Medline, which manufactures purple surgical masks, type IIR (more resistant to external projections), to differentiate them from other categories of masks.



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