Mask matters: comparing surgical masks vs n95 masks
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wearing a mask has become a daily routine for many of us. However, with so many different types of masks available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you. In this blog, we will take a closer look at two of the most popular masks - surgical masks and N95 respirators - and compare their features, benefits, and drawbacks.
Surgical masks, also known as loot masks, are one of the most commonly used masks. These masks are typically made of three layers of material, including a middle layer that filters out particles. They come in various sizes, and you want to make sure you pick the right size for your face.
When wearing a surgical mask, make sure the colored side is facing out and wrap it around your ears. The metal bar should be pinched around your nose for a tight seal. However, if you have facial hair or a beard, the mask may not fit properly. In that case, you need to shave before wearing the mask.
Surgical masks come in different levels of protection, including level 1, 2, and 3. These levels indicate the level of protection the mask offers from splatter. Level 1 masks offer basic protection, level 2 provides more protection, and level 3 is for heavy splatter. The filtration efficiency of surgical masks ranges from 95% for level 1 to 98% for level 2 and 3.
However, the virus is much smaller than the pores on the mask, so it is not 100% effective in preventing the spread of the virus. It is also important to note that surgical masks are disposable and should not be reused as they can accumulate germs over time.
N95 Respirator Masks
N95 respirator masks are another popular option. They are designed to provide better protection against particles and have a better fit than surgical masks. N95 respirator masks have two straps that are placed on your head, and the nose portion should fit snugly. The particle filtration efficiency of N95 masks is 95%. N95 masks are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and are tested for their filtration efficiency. They filter out 95% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger.
N95 respirator masks come in different specifications, such as American standards for NIOSH and K95. They all roughly filter out 95% of particles around 0.3 microns and above. There are other standards like FFP2 that also provide similar protection.
The main difference between surgical masks and N95 respirators is the way they are regulated. Surgical masks are cleared by the FDA, while N95 respirators are tested and approved by NIOSH. N95 respirators provide a reliable level of protection against particles, while surgical masks do not offer the same level of protection. However, surgical masks can still be effective if they are worn properly.