What Are N95 Respirators?
With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, talk of face masks and respirators has dominated the headlines.
You may be wondering:
- Which is the most efficient type of mask?
- Which type of mask should I buy to keep myself and my family safe?
- What are N95 respirators? (and how are they different from the other types of masks?)
There are several types of face masks, and each varies in its ability to protect against airborne illnesses like COVID-19. N95 respirators are among the most commonly used type of face mask.
Let’s explore in more detail.
What Are N95 Respirators?
The N95 respirator is an example of personal equipment that is used in protection against the transmission of germs, viruses, contaminable liquids, dust, airborne particles and more.
This mask is approved as a safety mask by the:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The name itself means that the N95 blocks out at least 95% of micro-particles that come in contact with the mask (if worn correctly).
It is important to mention that, even though the protection rate of the N95 respirator is high, it is not 100% sufficient.
N95 respirators are designed to create a close fit so that the area around the mouth and the nose of the wearer is fully sealed.
Are There Different Types of N95 Respirators?
Yes, N95 respirators come in different sizes and styles.
Most N95 respirators are produced for construction workers and those that work similar industrial type jobs that require protection from dust particles.
There are also N95 respirators structured precisely for the use in healthcare. The main purpose of N95 respirators in healthcare is to protect both the personnel and the patient from the transmission of mucus and body fluids.
Some models come with a valve, and are designed to reduce any build-up and to make the wearer more comfortable when breathing.
Cautions When Using N95 Respirator Masks
Another thing we must take into account is that the N95 respirator isn’t meant for children and people with facial hair. This is due to the fact that, with children and people with facial hair, the N95 respirator cannot create a tight seal around the mouth and the nose, and therefore doesn’t prevent airborne particles from getting in.
Why Wear Masks During COVID-19?
Remember, any mask is better than no mask.
Together with social distancing and handwashing, mask usage prevents the transmission of coronavirus and saves lives:
- Even if someone appears healthy and symptom-free, they can still pass on the virus to another person.
- Study results have varied, but have consistently shown that more than 50-80% of people with COVID-19 display little or no symptoms. Many people have it but don’t know it.
- Masks help contain infectious droplets when interacting with others (and especially when sneezing). The result? Less risk of infecting others or being infected.
- Coronavirus is deadlier in larger amounts. You have a much better chance if you are exposed to fewer droplets as your immune system has more time to build up antibodies.
- Country leaders and officials are now advising the use of face masks when out in public. Any mask is better than no mask (even if you have to make it yourself).
For detailed information, see these websites:
- NIOSH-Approved Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: COVID-19
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Coronavirus