It’s no secret that face masks are part of our daily routines, and have been for several months now. We’re now familiar with terms like N95 masks, which were previously only known to people who use them as PPE (personal protective equipment). With the cases of COVID-19 on the rise every day, and countries like the United States facing shortages, it’s important to learn everything about these masks,
One of the most reputable and known brands in medical PPE not only in the USA but the whole world is 3M. Their N95 masks have become one of the most requested items online, with bulk and wholesale purchases made by employers every day. They have many different N95 mask models, but today we’ll focus on comparing the 3M 8100 and the 3M 8210 plus.
First, let’s talk a little bit about N95 masks, so we can understand the features from the two 3M N95 mask models. All respirators have to be regulated by an institution to make sure they meet certain filtration standards. In the United States, the institution is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a federal agency that is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
NIOSH is in charge of making recommendations to prevent occupational injuries or illnesses. Respirators are used as PPE in work environments in which respiratory hazards are present. These are particles that, when exposed to them chronically, they can damage the respiratory system, being the cause of illnesses like lung cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
The institution not only approves respirators, but they also classify them according to their characteristics. The name N95 comes from this rating system, and it indicates mainly the respirator’s filtration efficacy and resistance to oil. The latter is indicated with a letter, which can be either N, R, or P, meaning not resistant, resistant, and oil-proof respectively. The minimum particulate filtration efficacy is indicated by a number, which can be either 95, 99, or 100%.
The term N95 refers to any respirator that meets the criteria established by NIOSH. According to the classification, these are respirators that can filter out at least 95% of all airborne particles and isn’t resistant to oil. This means N95 masks effectively filter out 95% of non-oil based particles that are airborne, including smoke, dust, and viruses like the flu or the coronavirus.
This makes N95 masks the best antiviral face masks available at the moment, and can ensure more virus protection than other disposable face masks, like surgical or medical masks, and much more than reusable cloth masks. That’s why they’re being prioritized to be used by healthcare workers and first responders, while the general public is urged to use reusable masks instead.
Everyone should know that, to be sold as an N95 mask, a respirator must have the NIOSH approval label, otherwise the respirator wasn’t properly regulated, and won’t ensure the protection an N95 mask offers. To be used as medical equipment, N95 masks need additional approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, with the coronavirus emergency, the FDA issued emergency use authorizations to several N95 mask models that weren’t previously regulated by them. You can find the list here.
3M 8100 and 3M 8210plus comparison
3M has a lot of N95 mask models, but two of the most popular ones right now are the 8100 and 8210plus. It’s important to know the similarities and differences between the two, to make sure people are using them in the correct environments. Even though N95 masks all have the same filtration efficacy and resistance to oil, and therefore work with the same particles, certain features make different N95 mask models a better fit for different tasks.
Both the 3M 8100 and 3M 8210plus are unvalved N95 masks with NIOSH approval, that aren’t cleared by the FDA. They’re used for personal safety and are made with electrostatic filter media that helps with breathability.
One big difference between the two is the recommended use 3M has in their specs for each mask. For example, the 3M 8100 is recommended for general manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and transportation. The 3M 8210plus are recommended for the same industries, but also commercial buildings, construction, design, food processing and safety, and heavy infrastructure.
Other differences include the fact that 3M 8210plus N95 masks are not individually wrapped, while 3M 8100 are. The 3M 8210plus N95 masks also have braided comfort straps, which is what makes them stand out from the 3M 8210 model.
3M and the coronavirus
3M is considered to be the biggest PPE manufacturer in the world, not only for medical gear, but also in many other industries. Right now, they’ve been a big source for medical equipment for the pandemic, especially of N95 masks. They’ve increased their production of this face mask to meet the demands caused by the pandemic.
Since the beginning of the year, they’ve already doubled their production of N95 respirators. They’re currently working towards meeting the goal to reach the production of 2 billion N95 masks per year. They have done incredible work in prioritizing the supply inside the United States, increasing domestic production and importation.
They have helped during the coronavirus pandemic in other ways too, working with health agencies and distributors to ensure their protective equipment can reach communities in need. They’ve also been heavily involved in research, working with universities and institutions to provide their help.
You can buy a lot of other 3M N95 mask models that are for sale online, like the 3M 8511. You can also find face shields and other types of disposable face masks, like KN95 masks. Remember that, to protect kids, they need a smaller size face mask. Everyone needs to stay safe during these times.