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While some folks may like to think that "normal times" are just around the corner, for the 6.2% of U.S. adults aged 18-64 who are living with a weakened immune system, they will most likely be adhering to mask precautions if and when COVID-19 is eradicated. And so will doctors, dentists, EMT's and nurses for that matter.

Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body's ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections. Researchers have reported higher rates of severe COVID-19 and death in people with this disease than in the general population. While mask mandates may be a thing of the past for some, for immunocompromised people and even healthcare workers (HWCs), it can be argued that respiratory protection is more important now than ever!

Whether or not there’s a pandemic, immunocompromised patients such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer and transplant patients are advised to wear masks, social distance and practice frequent hand hygiene. They are at a much higher risk level of a severe outcome, should they contract any illness.


Here's the long story short. Every time someone gives up wearing 3-5 layers of protective filtering fabric over the mouth in public, it not only puts one at risk to infection, it also generates a significant payload of airborne germs or droplets that compound in volume with gatherings. For those with a weakened condition or the elderly, one  small breathe of germ laden air could overwhelm their immune system causing serious illness or even death.  During this time of transition, a quality mask is of utmost importance.

If you rely on a mask to keep you healthy, we suggest you purchase a disposable mask designed to protect healtRespiratory Protection Productshcare workers!

Healthcare or medical masks will adequately cover the nose and mouth region from infectious fluids and airborne pathogens. These face masks vary in protection levels, styles, color, fit, comfort, purpose and price. So do N95 respirator masks. When dealing with protective face masks or particulate respirators, scientific data will also show there are performance aspects that can mean the difference between staying healthy or becoming infected.  Are you buying and using the correct facial protection for the procedures performed daily?

Here is some information to help you decide.


In the United States surgical masks are cleared for marketing and sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and they must be labeled as surgical, laser, isolation, dental or medical procedure masks. ¹ In healthcare settings, splash resistant masks have three primary purposes.² 

They are:

  • Worn by healthcare workers to guard against contact with splashes and sprays
  • Worn by healthcare workers to protect patients from exposure to infectious agents carried in a HCW’s mouth or nose
  • Worn by patients to limit potential spreading of infectious respiratory secretions from the patient to others


ASTM International is one of the world’s largest organizations for developing consensus standards. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) have defined mask levels (1 = low, 2 = moderate, 3 = hi-risk) and when dental and healthcare professionals should be using which level mask throughout different procedures.

ASTM International is a global organization that develops and publishes technical standards for an expansive array of products, materials, systems and services. Today, more than 12,800 ASTM standards are in use around the world, including ASTM F2100-11, the standard for medical face masks since 2012. What facemasks performance characteristics are tested using criteria specified by ASTM F2100 and why are they important?


  • BFE and PFE:

-Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) is a measure of the masks ability to filter out bacterial laden aerosols in the 3 micron size range.

-Particulate Filtration Efficiency (PFE) assesses the ability to filter out submicron particles in the 0.1 micron range. The higher the percentage, the more the mask prevents the passage of bacteria or particles.³

  • FLUID RESISTANCE:  Face masks are challenged with synthetic blood to simulate being splashed at low, normal or high blood pressure (80, 120, 160mmHg) ranges. The higher the pressure, the greater the resistance to penetration by fluid splashes.

  • DIFFERNTIAL PRESSURE / DELTA P (Breathability): Measures the effort it takes to force air through the mask material. The lower the Delta P, the more breathable and comfortable the mask.

  • FLAMMABILITY: The mask material is subjected to flame and the rate at which the material burns determines the level of flammability.

47107 Halyard® Fluidshield® Level 3 Fog-Free So-Soft® Masks WHY DO YOU NEED A FLUID-RESISTANT MASK?

If your mask is not fluid resistant, you are not adequately protected when performing procedures which generate splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, secretions, or excretions. Wearing a fluid-resistant mask helps to protect the wearer from mucosal contact and inhalation of these potentially infectious splashes and sprays.²


A higher percentage indicates higher filtration efficiency; e.g., 95% BFE indicates that no more than 5% of the aerosolized bacteria used in testing passed through the mask material, while 98% BFE indicates no more than 2% passes through.


If you are trying to identify if the mask you have is adequate for the job, just look at the package! The ASTM F2100 standard requires a graphic display on the packaging stating the mask performance level. The standard changed mask classifications from performance class (low, medium, high) to levels (1,2,3). This rating level is determined based on the test results of the material performance categories listed above.


It is important to note that face masks be changed with each patient, changed every hour during long procedures and be changed every 20 minutes in highly aerosolized environments. Lastly, the way the mask is worn is also extremely important to personal respiratory safety. There is a front and back to a mask-wear with the color facing outward. To be fully protected, the mask should be pulled over the nose, mouth, and chin and secured in place.

With all of the key facts and safety factors in mind for facial protection, you can select an ASTM-rated mask that is right for you and protects the best. All you need to do now is tap the link and ...

+shop for Face Masks here now

+shop for Respirator Masks here now

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1. Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff. Surgical Masks - Premarket notification [510(k)] submissions 2004.

2.Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, Chiarello L. 2007 Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Health Care Settings. Am. J. Infect. Control. Dec 2007;35(10 Suppl 2):S65-164.

3.ASTM International, Standard Specification for Performance of Materials Used in Medical Face Masks. West Conshohocken, PA