Not all masks are created equally, and when it comes to respiratory protection, n95 masks can provide much better protection than a standard surgical mask. When it comes to public health, the federal government and the national institute for occupational safety and health have said that the N95 particulate respirators are what you should be looking for in terms of protective equipment to stop the inhalation of viruses and unwanted bacteria. When worn properly the mask protects against 95% of all microscopic particles (0.3 microns).
What is an N95 Respirator Mask?
Unlike the surgical masks that many people are used to seeing, a respirator mask is designed to fit very close to the wearer’s face. The creation of a seal around the user’s nose and mouth area allows this style of a mask to have much fewer particles pass through the edge, close to the wearers face. N95 Respirator masks are commonly used by professionals in the health care fields for respiratory protection. Some respirators are equipped with an exhalation valve that allows for more natural breathing through the material and reduces the risk of condensation buildup within the mask itself. Due to the nature of a respirator mask, they may not be useable by those who experience medical conditions that may hinder breathing through the device.
What does the N95 Designation Represent?
When you see a respirator mask with the N95 designation, it represents two different aspects of the filter quality. In our case, the “N” represents the fact that the materials this mask is made of are not resistant to oils. Any contact with oils may damage the mask itself, reducing its effectiveness.
The number 95 represents – that during testing – the mask is capable of filtering out a minimum of 95% of all particles 0.3 microns and more substantial.
Will an N95 mask protect me entirely from a virus?
Do not be mistaken. There is no protective measure that will keep you 100% safe from an airborne virus. While an N95 mask is one of the best preventative measures you can implement as part of your respiratory protection plan, it is advised that you take other steps as well.
- Ensure your hands are always clean. Washing with a bar of anti-bacterial soap and warm water are highly recommended.
- Avoid any unnecessary touching of your face, especially your nose and mouth areas.
- Practice Social Distancing. Avoiding contact with people who may carry or who may have been exposed to a virus is one of the best measures you can take to protect yourself.
Are Surgical Masks The Same As N95 Respirators?
Surgical masks are not the same as N95 Filter Respirators. Surgical masks themselves do not provide much protection against small airborne particles and should not be used in place of a particulate respirator. The core functionality of a surgical mask is to provide a protective barrier against liquids and possibly larger respiratory particles. They will not offer the same level of protection against smaller particles and also do not prevent leakage around the end of the mask when a user inhales or exhales.
Do N95 Respirator Masks Come in Different Sizes?
Mask sizing and size availability change from manufacture to manufacture. Some companies are making their masks in multiple sizes and shapes to accommodate different facial structures.
Can I Wash my N95 Respirator Mask?
No, in fact, getting an N95 mask wet will destroy the materials and render the mask ineffective for respiratory protection. If your mask gets wet or dirty, it is recommended that you dispose of it immediately, replacing it with a new mask. Most masks, even those with exhalation valves, are considered disposable N95 masks and should not be worn if they show signs of moisture or damage.
Can I Share My N95 Mask with a Family Member?
Due to the nature of airborne droplets and particles, it is not recommended that you share your mask with anybody. There is a high chance that a virus, germs, or other bacteria will be transferred between bodies if the mask is shared. Also, the mask fit is critical. Just because your N95 Respirator fits nicely for you, does not mean it will fit a family member in a manner that will protect them effectively. Please be careful if you are to treat your N95 mask as reuseable.
Where Can I Buy N95 Masks?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many people all over the world using N95 Respirator Masks as a means of filtration between their respiratory systems and the risk of infection by airborne particles and droplets. Due to this increased demand, the masks themselves have become a very high demand item that is hard to source. 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. Many people are wondering where to buy an n95 mask.