Are N95 masks surgical masks?

A lot of people are asking N95 masks and what they are all about. If you are curious about the N95 masks, you are probably asking about the characteristics.

In this article, let us discuss more about the N95 respirators and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the N95 masks.

The Frequently Asked Questions About N95 Masks

If you are curious about N95 masks, you should keep in mind that below are the most commonly asked questions:

What Is An N95 Mask?

An N95 mask is a respiratory protective device. It aims to make sure that the wearer will achieve the closest level of facial fit. Based on NIOSH standards, it must come with 95% bacterial filtration efficiency and make sure that it protects the individual from bacterial particles. Against the coronavirus, the N95 mask is considered as one of the best kinds of protection that the individual could have. 

The edges of the N95 mask is designed to create a sort of seal of protection for the individual. There are different kinds of models of the N95 masks, with different functions but all of them come with a high level of protection pegged at 95 percent.

What Is A Surgical Mask?

A surgical mask is also a physical barrier. It is loose-fitting and it aims to provide protection for the wearer. For individuals who are not in a big exposure zone, the surgical mask is the good choice. However, given that almost every single community in the United States (and around the world) have already locked in community transmission, some communities already need the N95 mask. 

Are N95 Masks Surgical Masks?

The short answer is: No, N95 masks are not surgical masks. They have similarities but they are not the same. The following are the similarities among surgical masks and N95 masks:

  • They are both compliant with the requirements set by the regulatory agencies. 
  • They are both tested for filtration efficiency, flammability, and biocompatibility.
  • They should not be shared.

Is There An N95 Mask That Is Also A Surgical Mask?

Yes, there are also surgical N95 masks. 

What Are The Differences Between A Surgical Mask And An N95 Surgical Mask?

The differences between the surgical mask and the N95 mask include the following:

As to their intended use, the term surgical mask may be labeled differently and is often intended to protect the patient from the wearer’s secretions. They are not intended to fully cover the mouth of the individual using it. They are not NIOSH approved.

On the other hand, N95 masks or surgical N95 masks are designed to reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne biological contaminants. They are also intended to form a tight seal on the wearer’s nose and mouth. Surgical N95 masks are required to undergo a fit test. This means that the individual must show that the mask will tightly form a seal over his nose and mouth in order to protect him. It is NIOSH certified. It is fluid resistant and is intended to protect the overall welfare of the wearer.

As to regulation, surgical masks are tested and certified by the United StatesFood and Drug Administration (FDA) while N95 masks are expected to be certified by the NIOSH standards. 

As to the length of wearing, N95 masks must be worn by the wearer at all times. It is not safe to wear and use and remove then wear again. While it provides the best protection while it is worn, it must only be worn off at a very clean zone and thrown or placed at a tight seal place for cleaning and reuse. Surgical masks must, however, be removed after every procedure to prevent any further risk from happening.

What Are The Precautions That An Individual Should Take Before Using An N95 Mask?

Before using an N95 mask, the individual should take the following steps:

    • The individuals that have chronic respiratory or cardiac conditions should check with their health care provider before using an N95 mask. Some N95 masks may be hard to breathe on if it is not the proper one.
    • Some N95 mask models have an exhalation valve for the individual to be able to breathe easy. However, there are some institutions that you cannot enter when you are using such models. It is also necessary to wear a filter if you are using such models.
  • N95 masks are not designed for children. You will not get the proper fit that you are looking for if you use an N95 mask on a child. Keep in mind that you should only wear a mask or a respiratory protective device when you are sure that it will fit properly.

Know When To Wear Your Respiratory Protection

At the end of the day, keep in mind that your respiratory protection is only as good as when you allow it to be. You should know when you should wear a mere surgical mask and when it is required of you to wear either an N95 mask or a surgical N95 mask. Always remember that the best way to use your things is to always use them for the purpose that they were intended. N95 masks are meant to protect you from what only seems like a never-ending pandemic. Make sure that it serves its purpose at all times. Practice the safety precautions required of you always.

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