A Detailed Overview of N95 Masks

N95 masks are now a prominent and familiar object. Everyone speaks about it and even recommends its use. Although, you might not be aware of all the details and facts regarding the same. Here is an article throwing light on the answers that you are searching for.

This article is by Swayam Care, a budding manufacturer unit based in India. You might also like to check out their products and services on pulse oximeters. Click here for more such articles.

N95 masks

Technically known as “N95 filtering facepiece respirator” is a mask that restricts the passage of minute particulates. It is a mask of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health regulation. The name originates from its type of classification. It means N stands for Non-Oil air filtration rating, whereas 95 denotes the 95% particle filtration. 0.3 microns of airborne contaminants removal is possible with this mask. Other variants, such as P95, KN95, etc., also exist but serve different purposes. Electrostatic polypropylene fibre is the material in use.

More Details

There are masks for Rs.5 and Rs.10000, but ensure that you choose the correct one according to your requirements. A single N95 facepiece comprises five layers of protection, including the filter layer. Thus, its cost varies accordingly. So, is it even necessary for regular use? Yes, given the current pandemic scenario, otherwise, it’s not for routine use. A single mask can last safely for 8 hours, but usually, it is not reusable. Surgical N95s are single-use masks, but it is safe to consider reusing them in other circumstances.

There are reuse certified and washable N95 masks, which would do for 5 to 6 times under regular use. Cleaning the mask will also take effort. Although steam cleaning is recommended, you can opt for washing, provided it is washable. The below image will be of more help.

Types and Brands

Aren’t the terms confusing? Like what is this deal about surgical masks and respirators? It is pretty simple. N95 filtering facepieces are classified into two broad categories. They are:

  • N95 respirators or Non-medical- Standard N95 masks or respirators are a subset of N95 filtering facepiece respirators. Only NIOSH approves them and, that is the highlighting difference between these types. Their design looks like a seal surrounding just the mouth and nose. Respiratory protection is its key application and, they effectively filtrate only the inhaled minute particles. 
  • Surgical N95 or Medical masks- Surgical N95 is also known as medical or healthcare respirators. They are not just NIOSH approved but also FDA (Food and Drug Administration) cleared. The highlight in them is they are fluid resistant. It implies that both inhaled and expelled particulates are filtered out. It finds its use in both respiratory protection and surgical purposes.

Qualitative N95 masks are the products of 3M and Honeywell. Apart from these leading manufacturers, one can also rely on the following –

  1. Kimberly-Clark Corporation
  2. Ambu
  3. BD
  4. Prestige Ameritech
  5. Alpha Pro Tech
  6. Louis M. Gerson Company, Inc.
  7. Teleflex
  8. Moldex-Metric, Inc.
  9. Shanghai Dasheng Health Products Manufacture Company, Ltd.

How to Wear?

Wearing the mask properly is a must.

  • And to do that, you must first select the apt mask size. Ensure that your mask is neither too tight nor too loose. You can do so, by either specifying an adult or child mask or try out the medium size mask. The sizes vary from extra small to large and trying out medium enables us to know which range would be suitable.
  • Wearing a mask is not a regular task and so it can be weird or difficult to accustom initially. But, as you go along you will get used to it. If you face any kind of breathing problems during regular use it is better to visit a doctor or an expert. Also, individuals who already have breathing problems or heart issues must consult an expert for an opinion.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before wearing your mask since it needs to be hygiene. Men must ensure that their facial hair is trimmed and maintained else it may cause itching or feel uncomfortable.

Now, if the requirements are in place, follow the below steps:

  1. Hold the cup in the edges, with one hand and, place it over your face in the correct position.
  2. To ensure your placement of the mask, check whether the nosepiece fits on your nose bridge and the bottom comes under your chin.
  3. Pull both the straps over your head and place the bottom one below your ears, nearly on your neck. The top one will go over the ears, on your head.
  4. While removing the mask, do not place your hand on the cup. Just take out the straps slowly and hold them to either throw away or to disinfect.
  5. Your mask has to be replaced if it becomes loose.

Application of N95 masks

They were officially used in healthcare sectors since 1955 due to their virus blocking tech. Before that, industrial purposes such as mining, painting, etc., alone found their use. People use it as a protection against covid-19 since late 2019. But, there are several healthcare applications of this facepiece. Their actual use was that of surgical masks. It later became a barrier to deadly viruses. Healthcare workers have to wear it in their workplace.

References

https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1794572O/surgical-n95-vs-standard-n95-which-to-consider.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N95_respirator

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7161499/

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