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n95 respirator masks

According to the FDA, an N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles.

The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death.

N95 respirators are not designed for children or people with facial hair. Because a proper fit cannot be achieved on children and people with facial hair, the N95 respirator may not provide full protection.

N95 Respirators for Use by the Public

To work as expected, an N95 respirator requires a proper fit to your face.

Generally, to check for proper fit, you should put on your respirator and adjust the straps so that the respirator fits tightly but comfortably to your face. 

The CDC does not generally recommend facemasks and respirators for use in home or community settings.  However, they may be appropriate for persons at increased risk of severe illness from influenza or other respiratory diseases. 

Please consult with your health care provider for more information about when to use N95 Respirators at home or in the community.

More info

The FDA has cleared the following N95 respirators for use by the general public in public health medical emergencies:

  • 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8670F
  • 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8612F
  • Pasture Tm F550G Respirator
  • Pasture Tm A520G Respirator

Surgical masks

A surgical mask is a disposable medical device that can be bought in pharmacy and that protects against infectious agents transmitted by “droplets.” These droplets can be droplets of saliva or secretions from the upper respiratory tract when the wearer exhales.

A surgical mask can also protect the wearer from the risk of splashes of biological fluids. In this case, the surgical mask must have a waterproof layer. It can also be equipped with a visor to protect the eyes.

If worn by the caregiver, the surgical mask protects the patient and his or her environment (air, surfaces, equipment, surgical site).

If worn by a contagious patient, it prevents the patient from contaminating his or her surroundings and environment. These masks should not be worn for more than 3 to 8 hours.

Fabric Facemasks

According to the FDA, a facemask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment.

Facemasks are not to be shared and may be labeled as surgical, isolation, dental or medical procedure masks. They may come with or without a face shield.

Facemasks are made in different thicknesses and with different ability to protect you from contact with liquids.

These properties may also affect how easily you can breathe through the facemask and how well the facemask protects you.

If worn properly, a facemask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose. Facemasks may also help reduce exposure of your saliva and respiratory secretions to others.

While a facemask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, a facemask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes or certain medical procedures.

 

diy kit $18 for 3 masks

Facemasks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the facemask and your face.

N95 facemask vs. Surgical Mask

Learn more about the differences between the types of masks available today.