During the majority of this year, personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical providers has been a big topic of discussion. One item, in particular, N95 masks, have been the main focus for protecting our healthcare workers, since they’ve been considered the best face mask for antiviral purposes during the pandemic. These face masks used to be easy to find for sale online, and anyone could buy them in bulk or wholesale. But now, they’re as scarce as they’re valuable.
In this article, we’ll discuss Uline, a shipping company that has been a source of N95 masks in the United States this year. We’ll talk about the brands and models they offer, and also about the importance of N95 masks during the pandemic, as well as some basic information about them.
Understanding N95 masks
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), N95 masks are a very specific type of respirator. They’re disposable face masks that are used in many different types of work settings to protect workers against respiratory hazards, which are particles that can be harmful to a person when they’re inhaled either acutely or chronically.
NIOSH is an institution that was created as a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make recommendations and spread science-based information to the work settings across the USA, this way they can help prevent work-related injuries or illnesses. As part of their job, they also regulate respirators to make sure they meet the requirements of each respirator type inside their classification.
They have a system to name respirators based on two characteristics: oil resistance, and filtration rate. The first one tells us how well the respirator can filter out particles that contain oil, and it’s indicated in the name with a letter: N means that the respirator isn’t resistant to oil, R means that it’s somewhat resistant, and P means that it’s oil-proof. Based on this, N95 masks can’t filter out particles that contain oil.
The second one tells us the percentage of the airborne particles (those with a diameter of 0.3 micrometers) in the air they can filter out. It’s represented in the name with a number, which is the percentage of minimum particulate filtration efficacy. It can be either 95, 99, or 100%. So, N95 respirators can filter out at least 95% of the airborne particles in the air.
Based on the classification by NIOSH, the term ‘N95 mask’ refers to respirators that can filter out at least 95% of the non-oil-based particles in the air, which includes particles like dust, coal smoke, and even microorganisms like the flu virus or the new coronavirus. They can’t filter out particles that contain oil, like glycerin, or those that are too small, like gases or vapors.
This makes N95 masks great options for virus protection for healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic, with higher antiviral properties than those found in other face masks available, including reusable cloth masks and surgical or medical masks. They’re often worn in healthcare settings along with goggles or face shields to protect the eyes as well.
N95 masks have to be tested and certified by NIOSH to be considered legitimate. They make sure the masks manufactured and intended to be distributed as an N95 respirator meet all their requirements, and an approval seal or stamp by NIOSH is the only way to confirm that. When N95 masks are intended to be used in healthcare settings they also need approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
KN95 masks are usually confused with N95 masks since they have very similar names, and this is because they have pretty much the same properties. The difference comes from the fact that KN95 masks are regulated under the Chinese filtration standard and not the NIOSH one, which has very slight differences. They’re both generally considered to be interchangeable, with many KN95 mask models being granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
Does Uline ship 3M N95 masks?
This private American company was founded by Elizabeth and Richard Uihlein to offer shipping services after they noticed in the 80s that there was a local need for a shipping supply distributor. Inspired by this, they started Uline from their basement, but with the success they obtained, they could eventually move to their first headquarters in Illinois.
During the 90s they expanded to several states and began having operations in Minnesota, California, and New Jersey, and selling more than 4,000 products at the time. When the 2000s came, they expanded to Canada and Mexico, as well as other states like Wisconsin, Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, and currently employ around 6,700 people.
They’ve been known to ship many high-quality N95 respirators in their catalog, with 3M N95 masks being one of the most sought out items inside it. They carry the popular 3M 8210 and 3M 8511 models, both approved by NIOSH as N95 respirators. Other NIOSH-approved models they carry include N95 masks from Moldex and their own Uline brand of N95 masks.
We want to end this informative article by reminding our readers that anyone who uses a face mask is helping their healthcare workers by stopping the spread of this deadly virus. The CDC recommends that kids over the age of 2 years old should wear masks as well, but they must have a size that will protect them properly. It’s also very important to make sure medical-grade masks like the N95 masks are being reserved for medical workers to make sure they’re protected at work.