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What are the different types of Face Masks?

Surgical Masks

Surgical Masks are disposable, loose-fitting pieces of personal protective equipment that help protect the wearer from contaminants in their environment. The mask creates a barrier for the wearer’s mouth and nose, protecting them from exposure to certain airborne particles. Surgical masks, if worn correctly, will keep larger particles that can contain germs from reaching the protected area. By design, surgical masks are not meant to be used more than once and once damaged or soiled should be disposed of.

Respirators

Unlike the masks described above. Respirators are designed to achieve a very close fit to the wearer’s faces. On top of this, they provide a much more efficient means of filtration from airborne particles, body fluids and other infectious agents. Edges of the respirator often form a seal around the user’s nose and mouth area. These devices are commonly used by health care workers for respiratory protection when properly fitted. When appropriately used, respirators are much better than a surgical style mask, but they do not eliminate any possible risk. Please note, not everyone may be able to wear a respirator due to medical conditions that may be made worse when breathing through the device.

What Is An N95 Mask?

An N95 mask or respirator mask protects its wearer against airborne particles and liquids that may come in contact with the face, particularly the nose and mouth. With a proper user seal check, N95 respirators offer improved respiratory protection when compared to a standard surgical mask. They are an essential piece of personal protective equipment for a successful respiratory protection program.

What is N95?

95 is a designation given to masks or respirators that are designed to filter out 95% of tiny (0.3 microns) particles during testing. These tests are defined and standardized by the national institute for occupational safety and health (NIOSH). The “N” represents that the filter is not resistant to Oils. Therefore, N95 designates that the mask is highly effective at filtering particles, but the material is not resistant to any oils if it is to come in contact.

Where Can I Buy N95 Masks?

Due to increased demand during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has become challenging for people to obtain these masks. Factories around the world are having issues keeping up with the production required, and many industries are re-tooling to help meet the required supply.

What Does an N95 Mask Protect Against?

N95 type respirators are recommended by the Government of Canada and the USA’s. Centers for disease control and prevention for use by health care staff working in close contact with patients that may have infections diseases that could be transmitted by the inhalation of airborne particles or droplets. COVID-19, SARS and Tuberculosis are examples. These medical devices can only perform the best to protect the user when a seal check is performed every time the mask is applied. A tight seal is essential for ultimate protection. The respirator should be inspected after each use to ensure it is not damaged or wet in any way.

Are N95 Masks Effective?

COVID-19 (Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2) has been spreading through respiratory droplets that are created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales as part of their regular breathing. Once released, others can breathe in these airborne particles and are at risk of infection. The exhaled or projected respiratory droplets can also land on objects and surfaces. By touching these objects, followed by your face, you are at increased risk of exposure and inhalation. N95 respirator masks can help to protect against these smaller respiratory droplets.

To ensure your mask works as effective as possible always do the following:

  • Perform a fit and seal test once you apply the mask to ensure it is as tight to your face as possible
  • Remove any facial hair to improve the ability of the mask to seal to your face
  • Avoid touching your face when applying the mask
  • Perform a final check for damage or wetness once your mask is removed.

Can I Reuse my n95 mask?

It is not recommended for N95 face masks to be reused if they are damaged, soiled, or if breathing through the material becomes difficult. N95 respirators and masks are labelled as single-use, and they are considered disposable respirators. If damaged, they can not work their best to decrease exposure to certain airborne viruses and particles.