Masks have been a staple among households across the world. In fact, most countries require their people to wear masks in public. This is to decrease the cases of people who have contracted the virus. Thus, masks are known to be the protection of people. Protective facepieces such as masks are beneficial, especially when social/physical distancing is not observed by people. Masks lower the chance of contamination and transmission. Despite being recommended by states, masks are not equally protective. There are masks that offer superior protection and there are others that offer lesser protection. Masks like the N95 mask are the ones to remember.
What is an N95 mask?
The N95 mask has established its reputation as the most recommended mask by medical experts. With its filtration ability, the N95 mask is no stranger in the game of protection. Before the pandemic, the N95 mask has been a staple in the field of Medicine.
The term N95 is not just a term but a category. It is a category created by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). NIOSH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate facepiece respirators like the N95 mask. The N in the N95 mask refers to the mask’s surface as ‘not oil-resistant’. The 95 in the N95 mask refers to the mask’s filtration ability.
How does an N95 mask work?
The N95 mask has straps that are wrapped around the head. The straps of the N95 mask support the mask in giving a tight seal around the area of the nose and mouth. With the tight seal, the N95 mask has little to no room for leakage. The N95 mask has an advantage compared to any other masks available on the market. Made from non-latex materials, the N95 mask is not known to induce any form of irritation. The N95 mask works both in inhalation and exhalation. Particles from the outside are filtered by the N95 mask through its engineered filter. The same goes for the particles inside the N95 mask.
N95 mask filtration efficiency
The N95 mask is capable of filtering up to 95% of particles of 0.1 microns in size, and bacteria of 3.0 microns in size. In a study conducted by a group of scientists from the United States of America, the N95 mask exhibited an advanced efficiency infiltration. Particles under laser were found to be of small quantity as the subject talks while the N95 mask is donned. Moreover, the spread of the particles while the N95 mask is donned is much slower than any other masks tested.
In terms of filtration, the N95 mask is superior. However, variants like N99 and N100 are far more superior to the N95 mask. The N95 mask is only having a filtration level of 95%. Whereas the N99 is capable of filtering 99% and the N100 can achieve 99.95%. Despite the difference in infiltration levels, the N95 mask is much more breathable than N99 and N100. This is because the higher the filtration level, the more difficult it is to breathe. This gives the N95 mask a fair advantage over N99 and N100.
Aside from the field of medicine, the N95 mask is recognizable in the fields of Construction, Mining, and Engineering. The N95 mask is also capable of filtering particles like dust, mist, finer grains of sand, powdered cement, and volatile gases.
This evidence is testaments to prove the efficiency of the N95 mask.
However, the N95 mask is not for everyone. Children, for example, are discouraged to wear the N95 mask. This would make their breathing patterns difficult and might cause breathing problems in the future. Another issue that prevents people from wearing the N95 mask is existing breathing problems. People with existing breathing problems are not allowed to wear the N95 mask. As mentioned earlier, the N95 mask is capable of creating a tight seal around the area of the nose and mouth; making it even more difficult for these people to breathe. Lastly, men with stubble or beard are not allowed to wear the N95 mask. Beard can be a home to viruses and bacteria, as well as heat.
Besides all that popularity, there is a huge drawback. The N95 mask is now getting scarce. That is why companies are doubling their efforts to supply the overwhelming demand for the mask. Moreover, people are advised to skip buying the N95 mask and choose other alternatives. People working in the medical field need more supplies of the N95 mask. This is for them to be protected against the virus while saving millions of lives.
What are some alternatives to the N95 mask?
In a publication released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are facepiece respirators that are considered to be alternatives to the N95 mask. These respirators have competent filtration abilities that qualify to be alternatives to the N95 mask. These masks qualify because they have presented proof of their filtration efficiency.
- P2 mask filters up to 94% of particles. P2 mask is the Australian counterpart.
- The FFP2 mask is capable of filtering up to 94% of particles. FFP2 mask is the European counterpart.
- The KN95 and DL2 are also alternatives to the N95 mask. The KN is the Chinese counterpart while the DL or DS is the Japanese counterpart. The KN95 and the DL 2 masks are similar to the N95 mask with 95% filtration.