A mask expert father reveals the masks he buys for his son

  • Aaron Collins walks past “Mask Nerd” now that his unofficial job is to undergo face masks in his bathroom.
  • Collins, an aerosol expert, has compiled a list of the best child-sized masks for protection against COVID-19.
  • His son’s favorite mask is a KF94 made in South Korea, which is effective and comfortable.

Thousands of parents turn to Aaron Collins for advice on which face masks to buy for their children.

Since January 2021, Collins has been using his background in aerosol science to test how well different face masks block coronavirus-sized particles. He began trying out adult masks and then child-sized options for his five-year-old son.

Collins is a mechanical engineer by profession, and has access to scientific equipment that can transform his home bathroom into an interim laboratory. He started posting his results on YouTube and soon began answering questions asked by his more than 21,000 subscribers.

The question that parents most often ask is what mask his young son – called “Mask Nerd Jr.” – goes to school, Collin said in an August video about masks for children.

He added that he can not guarantee that a mask he reviews fits properly on a viewer’s child, as his own test pool is quite limited. In general, he recommends buying a range of stitches in similar sizes to compare and find the best fit for your child.

Collins’ son wears a Korean face mask that can fit 4-9-year-olds

The mini mask nerd loves his KF94, a South Korean standard that comes in sizes to suit all ages. Collins said his son’s favorite is the blue (industrial brand) “tiger mask,” a plain boat-style white mask that has a tiger superhero on the packaging.

The boat or duck nose style, which has a flat panel at the front instead of a seam down the middle, can fit most faces if dimensioned correctly. Collins’ son wears a size small, which is advertised to look after children between the ages of four and nine.

He also likes a similar style “ducky” mask from Bluna, another Korean brand. Both masks are currently sold out at Collins recommended retailers, which include Korean beauty shops that get their products imported.

A couple of these stores – Be Healthy USA for the tiger mask and KollecteUSA for the ducky – have announcements on their websites that they will resume shipping the sold out masks on January 17th.

Several high-quality mask options for kids of all ages can be found on a spreadsheet, where Collins compiled the best he tested, along with links to where to buy them.

The United States lacks a mesh standard that applies to children

Without a general population mask standard in the United States, it is difficult to find child-sized masks.

The numbers and letters we have come to associate with masks – N95, KN95, KF94 and so on – reflect a test standard introduced by the country of production. But in the United States, that standard only applies to adults.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been responsible for workplace safety in the United States for more than 50 years. Part of that job includes approval of the N95 respirator, which was originally designed for industrial use.

Until COVID, there was not much demand for child-sized respirators in the United States. Young children should not work, especially not in environments where PPE is required, so NIOSH has no interest in the problem, Collins said.

But that leaves a huge gap in the U.S. mask range, which is why experts like Collins often search abroad for tiny, premium masks.

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