The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into our lives a lot of new subjects and things we never thought we would have to worry about. From face masks to hand sanitizer, all these items are part of our daily lives, when before that we only saw them being used by healthcare workers on TV or in a hospital. The guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were never as important.
Now, we’re in a time in which medical supplies can no longer be bought in bulk or wholesale by regular people very easily, and finding them for sale online is a tedious task. But, MQ Direct has N95 masks that follow the guidelines issued by both the FDA and the CDC, making them completely safe to be used.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of N95 masks, and how MQ Direct is a great source for them.
It’s important to understand first what an N95 mask is. The term ‘N95’ comes from the classification of respirators established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They regulate respirators, testing them and certifying if they meet the requirements they’ve established for each respirator type. This is part of a bigger goal: to ensure a safe work environment for all the workplaces across the United States by making science-based recommendations and spreading information.
Respirators are very important as part of the PPE in jobs like construction and mining, where the worker is exposed to harmful particles known as respiratory hazards. These particles include dust and coal smoke, but also viruses and bacteria, which are present in healthcare settings. Respirators prevent these particles from reaching the wearer’s airways and causing health problems.
The NIOSH classification of respirators names them based on two properties in a system where they use a letter to identify the first one, which is oil resistance, and a number to identify the second one, which is the filtration rate.
- Oil resistance represents how well a respirator can filter out particles that contain oil, and the letters N, R, or P identify if the respirator is either non-resistant, somewhat resistant, or oil-proof. N95 respirators are, therefore, not resistant to oil, so they can’t filter out particles with oil in them.
- The filtration rate is represented by the percentage of minimum particulate filtration efficacy, which tells us the number of airborne particles the respirator can filter out from the air. The percentages can be either 95, 99, or 100%. N95 masks are those that can filter out at least 95% of them.
This way, there are nine different respirators inside the NIOSH classification, each as a result of the possible combinations of the three alternatives in each property. For example, besides N95 masks, there are also N100, R95, and P99 respirators, among others.
N95 masks are effective for protection against non-oil-based particles, which includes viruses like the flu and the novel coronavirus. This is why they’ve been considered to be the best disposable face masks for antiviral purposes, better than surgical, medical, or reusable cloth masks. For this reason they need to be reserved for those who need the highest protection, like the healthcare workers who are at high exposure all the time.
To be considered a legitimate N95 respirator, NIOSH must test it and certify it meets all the requirements, and this can be proven if the respirator has the approval seal. When a respirator is intended to be used in healthcare settings, they also need approval by the FDA.
N95 masks have been scarce for most of the year, with shortages affecting healthcare centers across the USA. Smaller healthcare facilities like nursing homes have been the most affected, with many workers having to reuse N95 masks multiple times following the guidelines established by the CDC, or to use other alternatives available to them.
For example, KN95 masks are one of the alternatives that can be used to substitute N95 masks when these aren’t available. They’re respirators regulated under Chinese standards for filtration, and are generally considered to be equivalent to N95 masks. Many models have been cleared by the FDA to be used in healthcare settings with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Some of the most popular models of N95 masks are the 3M N95 masks, like the 3M 8210 and 3M 8511. But, MQ Direct is also a certified provider of N95 masks, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their MQ Direct Harley N95 masks have an air-tight seal that is provided by the behind-the-neck bands.
They’re NIOSH-approved respirators, meaning that NIOSH tested them and certifies they meet the 95% filtration efficacy of N95 respirators. They’re also cleared by the FDA to be used in healthcare settings, making them a commercially available option for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.
MQ Direct’s Harley N95 mask model is also comfortable, resistant to fluids, and durable. They’re marketed for the whole family to provide safety, especially during the winter when a new surge of COVID-19 is expected to merge with the flu season in the United States. MQ Direct is a manufacturer and distributor of business supplies that has been providing medical supplies during the pandemic, and provides only high-quality NIOSH and FDA-approved respirators.
Anyone who uses a face-covering, whether it’s a disposable face mask or a reusable one as the CDC recommends, including kids over the age of 2 years old with a face mask in a size that fits them properly, is doing their job to stop the spread of the virus. This helps our healthcare workers, and also protects the most vulnerable people inside our communities.