Are N95 respirators more effective than face shields?

The breakdown of COVID-19 in last year led people to adopt strategies to save themselves from the virus. From all these strategies, personal protective equipment PPE, including N95 respirators, face shields, clothe masks, and others became the most popular items. These N95 respirators; however, ranked highest among the PPEs used for protection against the virus.

Face shields are also considered as the best protection equipment. They raised a major question, whether these face shields are the best for protection against viruses or N95 respirators. Different researches were conducted to test this. The U.S Centre for Disease Control and Command CDC, recommended people to use face masks and respirators for protection. However, some people started using face shields.

After the researches, it was concluded by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that N95 respirators offer the best protection against the COVID-19. The face shields may have their advantages, but they cannot be used alone. The N95 respirators fit properly on the face and thus provide maximum protection.

However, both of the protection equipment have their advantages and disadvantages. To say that one is more effective than the other will not be right, because both offer protection according to their levels. NIOSH, FDA, and CDC recommend the usage of both, depending upon the comfort level and filtration quality that a person might want. So, the following are the advantages and disadvantages of N95 respirators and face shields to describe the effectiveness of both:

Advantages of N95 respirators and Face Shields:

N95 respirators are designed specially to filter 95% of the dust and the airborne particles from the air. The fit properly on the face and thus allow no particles to pass through the filter. These N95 respirators are NIOSH and FDA recognized and help in preventing the spread of the virus. The specially designed N95 filtrate respirators protect the users from allergies. They also stop asthma problems. These N95 respirators have been used worldwide throughout the pandemic and provided effective protection. 

These N95 respirators stop the splashes and water droplets from entering into the body through the nose, mouth, or respiratory tract. In a way, these N95 respirators maintain a level of separation of the droplets in the air. 3M is the manufacturing company for these N95 respirators. They can be used in all the conditions. 

N95 respirators have different models, and some of the N95 respirator models come with the valve and extra filters. These valves help in normal breathing and remove the hot air from inside during the summer. The comfort level that these N95 respirators provide is high. The straps are also designed in a way to hold the respirator tightly and comfortably on the face.

Face shields are also the best protective instruments to prevent the virus. It is composed of a plastic sheet which is made of a strong and clear material. The straps are attached from both sides. The shield covers the face completely. However, a bit of space is left between the mouth and the shield. This space is helpful in ineffective communication. These are more comfortable for usage by users.

The cover the larger part of the face and reduce the anxiety faced by the customers while wearing the face masks. These shields can be disinfected easily. They are also a bit less expensive. The face shields can also be used for long term purposes such as in industries by the workers. They also provide clear visibility than goggles. 

All these advantages of the N95 respirators and face shields make them comfortable for the use of the customers. Due to these advantages, they can be effectively used as protective equipment.

Disadvantages of N95 Respirators and Face Shields

N95 respirators and face shields both have the disadvantages. The disadvantages of both these are covered by the advantages of each. For instance, the N95 respirators fit tightly on the face and may irritate some of the users. The valve present in the N95 respirators may cause breathing issues in the users who have breathing sensitivities. N95 respirators may also sometimes allow the particles to pass through them and cause inefficiency problems. 

Moreover, these N95 respirators are most of the time not reusable and it causes money loss. There are lesser techniques for the disinfection of these N95 respirators. So, all these make them a bit uncomfortable for the users, however, all of these disadvantages of N95 respirators can be removed with the use of face shields along with it.

There are also disadvantages of face shields. These face shields are not fit optically and may cause the problems of sight. Some of the face shields may also not fit properly on the user’s face and look bulkier. One of the other problems is the space between the face and the shield. It may lead the germs to enter and attack the respiratory tract. The germs can attack and enter easily and cause the spread of the virus. So, these issues cause the non-comfortability level of these face shields. These disadvantages are removed by the N95 respirators.


N95 respirators and face shields both have their advantages and disadvantages. However, the disadvantages of both of the protection equipment can be covered by the advantages of both. So, most of the healthcare centers often recommend the use of N95 respirator and face shield at the same time.

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