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DISPOSABLE FILTRATION MASKS 101

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization recommend that masks be worn during the pandemic to reduce the transmission of the virus. With so many different types of facemasks available (referring to medical or surgical masks, N-95 and similar respirators) many individuals are learning that not all masks are created equal and it has sowed confusion about the utility of masks.

It is known that masks help prevent contamination of the surrounding area. They're effective as a “source control" because they can prevent larger expelled droplets generated from coughs, sneezes, speech, heavy exhalation from evaporating into smaller droplets that can travel farther. Scientific data will also show there are performance aspects that can mean the difference between staying healthy or becoming sick. Disposable masks vary in protection levels, styles, color, patterns, fit, comfort, purpose and price. Are you buying and using the correct facemask for the procedures performed daily? Here is some information to help you decide.

Shatkin F.I.R.S.T.® #SFN95H N95 Filtering Disposable Face MaskWHAT IS A RESPIRATOR?

Designed to protect the respiratory system, a respirator is a personal protective device that is worn on the face or head and covers at least the nose and mouth. A respirator is used to reduce the wearer’s risk of inhaling very small and hazardous airborne particles or particulates (including infectious agents), gases, odors, vapors, including bacteria and viruses.   Respirators, including those intended for use in healthcare settings, are certified after a lengthy testing process by the CDC/NIOSH.

What is a N95 Respirator?

It's About the Micron Size

Filtering facepiece respirators (FFR's) are a type of respirator which removes non-oily hi-risk particulates from the air that are breathed through it. N95 type respirators are constructed with a special filter media that filter out at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) particles with some styles boasting 99% filtration efficiency.

The "KN95" vs. the "N95"

An incredible demand and shortages of N95 respirators has forced many to go outside their normal supply chain and consequently brought an influx of Chinese made KN95 respirators to the U.S. market. In short, N95 masks are the US standards for respirator masks; KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for masks.  KN95 masks are required to be tested by an accredited test lab, which doesn’t have to be in the U.S., and during the early stages of the pandemic, they were not required to be tested by American regulators.

WHAT MAKES RESPIRATORS DIFFERENT FROM SURGICAL MASKS?

It's About the Micron Size

N95 respirators reduce the wearer’s exposure to hi-risk airborne particles, from very small aerosols to large droplets.  But in order to effectively filter 95% of particles in the air, respirator facepieces need to be tight-fitting.  Achieving an adequate seal to the face is essential for personal health and safety.  

When properly fitted and worn, minimal leakage occurs around edges of the respirator when the user inhales. This means almost all of the air is directed through the filter media. Unlike respirators, most surgical type masks are loose-fitting and provide only basic barrier protection against droplets, including large respiratory particles. No fit testing or seal check is necessary with these disposable facemasks.

Most facemasks do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales. A popular role of a surgical masks is for "source control" to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person produces droplets or aerosols from coughs, sneezes, speech, exhaling.  Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a facemask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home.

+Click here for Infographic: Understanding the difference between surgical masks and N95 respirators here. 

WHAT IS A SURGICAL N95 RESPIRATOR?

A surgical particulate respirator mask is recommended only for use by healthcare personnel (HCP) who need hi-risk protection from both small and large airborne particulates (wet or dry) and fluid hazards (e.g., splashes, droplets, aerosols, heavy sprays). These respirators are not used or needed outside of healthcare settings.

In times of shortage, only HCP who are working in a sterile field or who may be exposed to high velocity splashes, streams, sprays, or splatters of blood or body fluids should wear these respirators, such as in operative or procedural settings. Most healthcare workers caring for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients should not need to use surgical N95 respirators and can use standard N95 respirators.  If a surgical N95 is not available for use in operative or procedural settings, then an unvalved N95 respirator may be used with a faceshield to help block high velocity streams of blood and body fluids.

Stop the guesswork. Avoid the "K" in the N95, the scams and delays. Arm your team with registered and certified PPE respiratory safety devices   and  .....

+shop for Disposable Particulate Respirators now

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