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Things To Consider Before Buying N95 Respirator Masks
N95 masks are considered to be the best available option for personal protective equipment against COVID-19. The CDC, NIOSH, OSHA, and WHO all recommend we wear masks as protective equipment but say N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders. When you come across an N95 mask and have a chance to buy it, these disease control administrations and centers would certainly recommend it. Read up on things to consider before buying N95 respirator masks before you go out and buy.
What Does N95 stand for?
An N95 mask stands for a respiratory protective device designed to protect the wearer from airborne particles through efficient filtration. Surgical N95 respirators are used in healthcare settings and are a subset of N95 masks. Most N95 masks are designed for construction or industrial jobs, as well as healthcare procedures. However, more recently, N95 masks are used as disposable respiratory devices in a general healthcare setting and by the general public.
How Are N95 Masks Regulated?
N95 masks are tested and approved by NIOSH, FDA, CDC, and other federal agencies and organizations. These masks are tested for fluid resistance, filtration efficiency, biocompatibility, and flammability. For masks of slightly different varieties, FFPs or KN-95, there are other testing criteria to determine performance and efficiency—for example, test agent, flow rate, or permissible pressure drop.
What Do N95 Masks Protect From?
An N95 respirator mask is designed to protect from possible and specific diseases and infections. Its filtration ability is also supposed to protect from airborne particles, viruses, bacteria, microorganisms, and liquid droplets (sneezing or coughing). It also protects from pollution, allergens, and particles in general. N95 filters have 95% protection efficiency against all the aforementioned airborne particles.
What are N95 Masks Made From?
N95 masks are made of a fine mesh of polysynthetic polymer fibers or, more specifically, from non-woven polypropylene fabric. These fibers are plastic and are used to make synthetic and polyester shirts, yoga pants, jackets, and other clothing items. These masks are made by melt blowing.
What Types Of N95 Masks Are There?
- Standard N95 respirator mask. The traditional N95 mask is widely available and recommended as protective equipment against all airborne particles. The mask is not made of natural rubber latex and is not FDA cleared as a surgical mask.
- Surgical N95 respirator mask. Just like the regular N95 mask, the surgical one also protects against all airborne particles. It’s cleared from the FDA as a surgical mask. The mask is not made with natural rubber latex and is fluid-resistant and varying high pressures.
- N95 masks with exhalation valve. Alongside the regular N95 masks, there are also N95 masks with exhalation valves. According to the CDC, exhalation valves can protect the wearer from particles and viruses like COVID-19. However, they may not prevent the virus from spreading to other people, so these masks are not useful for source control. The CDC advises we do not wear masks with exhalation valves because both source control and respiratory protection are required for the current situation.
How Do N95 Masks Fit?
N95 masks have a tight-fitting, face-seal fit. The edges of the N95 respirator mask are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth. The headbands are there to further ensure a tight fit on the face. N95 can be put on fast and easy, and when properly worn, it prevents airborne particles from entering your airway and respiratory system.
Are N95 Masks Efficient?
N95 masks have a collection efficiency of 95% when tested against airborne and non-oil particles. However, the filter penetration of the mask is significantly affected by the particle size and the breathing rate. These masks, as mentioned, are only useful in the absence of oil particles like cutting fluids, lubricants, and glycerin. They are also not effective in the case of fire in oxygen-deficient areas, facilities, or surroundings and in case of hazardous gases or vapors.
Are N95 Masks Reusable?
N95 masks are reusable beyond their designated shelf life. They can also be re-used a limited number of times after being removed. It’s also recommended that N95 masks be worn five times without washing. However, this only applies to cases where there is no physical damage to the mask, no signs of mask degrading, and if the mask hasn’t been exposed to bodily fluids or exposed to a patient during an aerosol-generating procedure.
Make sure not to touch the mask, as you are wearing it to avoid self-contamination. If you have been exposed to other people’s bodily fluids like coughing or sneezing, dispose of the mask in a plastic bag and throw it in the trash.
Can N95 Masks Be Decontaminated?
N95 masks are not currently approved for routine decontamination as a standard of care. However, decontamination, just like new re-use concepts, is considered part of the crisis strategy for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is enough to ensure the continued availability of N95 masks.
How To Identify a Fake N95 Mask
According to the latest guidance from The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), here’s how you can tell if you have bought a fake N95 mask:
- Earloops vs. headbands. Approved N95 masks have headbands, not ear loops, which ensure a tighter fit of the mask. Counterfeit N95 masks have ear loops.
- Facepiece markings. A real N95 mask should have NIOSH facepiece markings or approval numbers on the mask or headband.
- Misspelling. Fake N95 masks often have NIOSH misspelled on the label; the most common variation is NOISH.
- Decorations. Fake N95 masks often have decorative fabrics and add-ons. Real N95 masks do not contain any such decoration or additional materials.
- Approved for use by children. No respirator face mask is approved by use for children. That is how you can tell if your N95 mask is fake; if it’s approved by use for children, do not buy or use the mask.
Where Can I Buy N95 Respirator Masks?
You can buy N95 respirator masks at Quick Supplies online. All our masks are 100% authentic and purchased from the largest and most reliable medical distributors in the U.S. We provide exceptional service while providing you with all of the convenience of online shopping without the hassle. Located in the USA, Quick Supplies is your one-stop-shop for all medical and health supply needs. We hope we have informed you of things to consider before buying N95 respirator masks so that you can make the right choice for you and your family.