N95 masks were first created by 3M, a US multinational conglomerate dealing in safety products and other consumer goods. The N95s has been the recipient of international acclaim since they were first invented to be used by construction workers. The facilitation that was provided to the construction workers by the use of N95s paved the way for surgical respirators, a mask created specifically for the medical sector workers.
The inventor of the material that is being used in the manufacturing of N95 masks today is Peter Tsai, a Taiwan-born scientist currently residing in America. Peter, along with his colleagues at the University of Tennessee established a team dedicating their efforts to creating a fabric that could work as an air filter and successfully managed in doing so.
Even though the very first N95 was created by an American company, at present, America is not the only country manufacturing these in-demand facepieces. Various manufacturers around the world also have the approval of the CDC and are successfully producing N95 masks of top quality. N95s are primarily known as the masks that were invented by America but its production is not limited to this one country only.
The nation of China is one of the major manufacturers of this protective face mask and one of the major exporters as well. During the coronavirus pandemic, China also lent its helping hand to other countries of the world including the US to curb the rapid shortage of this very crucial PPE.
Why N95 is considered an American respirator?
Like mentioned before, N95 was created by Americans, tested by Americans, and also first worn by Americans. The N95 mask is approved by US agencies such as CDC and NIOSH—in addition, the standards of classifying N95s according to their characteristics were also developed by the US. Due to these reasons, an N95 is considered as something that first belonged to America.
While there are other substitutes of the n95 masks such as KN95 and FFP2 masks, N95 remains to be the more reliable one among all the other respirators. These other masks—KN95 and FFP2 are not regulated under the U.S jurisdiction and are relatively preferred less than the N95 masks because of some differences in their standards and performances.
Although these masks are not certified according to the U.S standards they were still considered a viable choice for protection against the coronavirus as they work similarly to the N95s and provide the same level of filtration as well. But FDA and Health Canada, who tested out some KN95s found this product to be sub-par as the masks failed the filtration test proving that they were not even remotely as efficient as an N95. This further validates the assumption that masks certified under the US jurisdiction perform better than masks that are certified under non-US jurisdictions.
Why an American made N95 would be more efficient
Just like the case is with the masks that are not certified under the U.S jurisdiction, similarly one could also argue that the N95s made in America are better efficiency-wise. This argument is upon the cornerstone that certification and testing policy that the FDA has for the American made masks is more rigid than that of other countries. If that weren’t the case then KN95, a Chinese-made mask, and FFP2, a mask being widely used in Europe could have passed the filtration test and would have been approved by the FDA.
In addition to this, the fact that Americans were the ones who came up with the concept of this mask is also a contributing factor. A nation that first came up with this mask would also be rightfully considered its expert since they would be more thoroughly aware of the functions and shortcomings of this mask and of bettering it than any other nation.
Furthermore, when buying an N95 from a foreign manufacturer one could also be fearful of getting scammed since many foreign N95 manufacturers have been supplying counterfeit or sub-par N95s in the market. This further discourages a person from buying an N95 from a non-US manufacturer, however, there are some legit foreign N95 manufacturers that are approved by CDC and safe options to buy from. We may conclude that the country’s strict policy in regards to approving respirators, both U.S and non-US is what gives the N95s produced by the US precedence over other country’s N95 masks.
N95s are considered to be the most efficient type of respirator among all other face pieces because of its remarkable 95% filtration efficiency. N95s are also approved by NIOSH and CDC and recommended by the esteemed WHO for healthcare workers as well. N95s are an American invention and the U.S Company 3M is a leading manufacturer of N95 masks that has its factories in other countries too.
These masks are considered to be more viable than other masks because it is identified under the U.S jurisdiction, which is very strict and rigorous in regards to granting the certificate of approval. The fact whether American-made N95s are better than foreign N95s is debatable since there is a whole list of CDC-approved foreign N95 manufacturers—however, the country’s strict guidelines involved in the manufacturing and distribution of this product could make them a tad bit more reliable than others.