Here is our guide to people who are having confusion on which mask really suit their needs.
Surgical or medical mask
Surgical masks are used to protect the wearer and the non-wearer against droplets, splashes, bodily fluids, and other hazardous fluids. It serves as a barrier against respiratory fluids such as spit and mucous that can be emitted through talking, couching, and sneezing. Surgical masks are also not secured against leakage due to its loose-fitting structure making it unreliable when it comes to airborne particles.
Disposal: Surgical masks are disposable and required to be replaced after every encounter to a patient or when the mask gets damp or wet. This may also differ from the manufacturer’s instructions.
Respirators are created to protect the wearer from harmful airborne particles, gas, and vapor which the surgical mask cannot provide. Respirators with exhalation valves are the same as the regular respirator but provides lesser breathing resistance and reduce moisture build-up. They also provide tight-fitting resulting in minimal to no air leakage depending on the design and proper donning. Respirators are classified at different protection levels depending on what the setting or environment requires. These standards are identified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) so that the filter efficiency of respirators being used by workers are sure to give them the protection they need. For instance, the N95 respirator belongs to the ‘N’ filter category which is suitable for ‘air that has no oil present’ and has an efficiency level of 95 that means that the filter can trap 95 out of every 100 airborne particles that are at least 0.3 micrometers in size. This particular level of protection is recommended by the government for use of healthcare workers.
Other categories of respirators:
R – Oil is present, but only for a single shift or 8 hours of continuous or intermittent use
P – Oil is present, but follow the manufacturer’s time use limitations if you want to re-use these
Other efficiency ratings:
100 – Filters 99.97 particles out of 100
99 – Filters 99 particles out of 100
Disposal: Respirators come in half and full-face masks which can be disposable or reusable depending on the manufacturer’s instruction. For the N95 disposable respirator, it is generally instructed to be disposed of after a single use; when it becomes damaged, contaminated, or dirty; or when breathing resistance becomes more difficult.
Make sure to know what kind of protection you need when you are performing a task or exposed to a specific environment as well as how to maintain and when to dispose them to get fully protected and safe. ARASCA eShop provides different respiratory protective equipment that can help you choose and decide.