N95 filtering facepiece filters out airborne particulates up-to-the size of 0.3 microns and offer the reliability of 95% effective filtration. The respirator is termed as an ‘N’ type which means that it is not resistant to oil but will effectively filter out particles like gases, vapors, pollutants. Smoke, fluids/droplets, and bacteria as well. The respirator even bores the approval of agencies like NIOSH and the FDA. The first-ever N95 respirator was created in 1972 by the American multinational conglomerate, 3M International.
Why are N95 respirators crucial?
N95s respirators at the present are regarded as the best performing respirator. The respirator’s acclimation is not limited to the healthcare sector as one may think, the use of this mask is also prevalent among construction workers, fire brigadiers, workers in laboratories, and are also used by people who are seeking protection from pollution or dust. The N95’s most distinguishing feature, its seal and provision of N95% protection against airborne particulates has made this respirator the recipient of worldwide traction.
Initially, The N95s was created to protect the people associated with the construction sector. By following this, the first N95 respirator created by 3M was launched to cater to the needs of workers associated with this sector. However, soon it was realized that the healthcare sector should not be deprived of this valuable commodity and its protection. Subsequently, Peter Tsai developed an antiviral technology to develop a variant of the N95 for healthcare workers.
Finally, the ‘surgical respirator’ was created and replaced the surgical mask and became the preferred choice of healthcare workers for optimum protection against bacteria. Similarly, during the coronavirus pandemic, the true importance of the N95 was realized since this was the only responsible deemed effective against the novel coronavirus disease. The size of the virus is 0.3m and since the respirator can easily filter out particulates up-till this size, the N95 could be considered a weapon that immensely helped in battling out this notorious virus.
3M and different variants of N95s
3M is a world-renowned manufacturer of N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment as well as consumer goods and healthcare. This Minnesota based multinational conglomerate is considered a pioneer in the field of N95 manufacturing and is hailed as one of the best PPE manufacturers of America. 3M was the company that introduced the concept of N95 respirators to the world apart from the rudimentary stage by developing it into a usable respirator. The company is considered to be one of the most successful corporations in America and was also listed in the Fortune 500 and secured the 95th based on total revenue.
Since N95 respirators serve different individuals associated with different professions demanding different levels of protection, it is simply impossible that all of these features can be expected from a single N95 respirator. There various N95 variants being used in different sectors and providing safety and comfort to the people associated with those sectors. How do these respirators that are manufactured by the same company differ in performance and features? Let’s find out.
3M N95 surgical respirator
This N95 respirator could also be labeled as a healthcare worker’s best friend due to its importance for the people associated with this job. This particular respirator has the approval of both FDA and NIOSH to be used as a respirator in healthcare settings. The mask possesses the qualities of a typical N95 respirator and provides the user with 95% protection against airborne particulates. The mask is especially recommended to be during emergencies and pandemics and also protects against fluids. The mask does not include an M-nose clip which is a crucial feature of other N95 respirators. Similar to a surgical mask, the respirator is blue.
3M 9504 FFP2 particulate respirator
This is another widely used 3M N95 respirator that also possesses a valve. Valved masks are supposed to make the breathing process easier for the individual wearing a mask. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend wearing a valved mask and deems it unsuitable to be worn during a pandemic especially. The valve increased the risk of spread among the people and is therefore not a suitable choice for seeking protection against a contagious disease like the coronavirus. The respirator can be used by commoners and provides the user with a sealed fit as well. The respirator is available in white color and comes in a standard size that can easily be donned.
3M 8210 particulate respirator
This N95 respirator comes bearing a two-strap and in addition, also possesses a welded dual point that further helps in achieving a tight seal. The mask also includes a nose foam that provides comfortability and the lightweight construction of the mask enables the user to don the respirator for an extended time without any agitation or suffocation.
N95 respirators are the epitome of what a face mask is supposed to be. The mask filters out 95% of all airborne particulates and the respirator’s sealed fit ensures minimal to no leakage. The N95 comes in a variety of models, styles, and sizes. The N95 variant prevalent in the healthcare sector is the surgical respirator. Apart from the aforementioned N95 models, there are other 3M manufactured N95 models as well. All of these respirators hold the same objective but their way of executions as well some other features could differ from each other.