PPE, the acronym used to refer to personal protective equipment, has been a term we’ve heard a lot being used during this year. Items like face shields, KN95 masks, and N95 masks have been talked about a lot during the pandemic, and the news online only seem to talk about the concern of shortages affecting the healthcare field.
N95 masks, also known as N95 respirators, have particularly been a prominent topic of discussion this year. These face masks are the most important part of the medical PPE used during the pandemic. 3M, an American company, has been the main source for these respirators in the United States.
However, it’s important to know which 3M N95 mask models have been discontinued by them over the years, since scams and the selling of counterfeit masks has been a prominent problem during this year, and 3M seems to be the most targeted brand for this due to their reputation.
Here are some of the N95 mask models no longer in production by 3M.
Discontinued 3M N95 masks
3M has been widely recognized as a manufacturer of high-quality N95 masks, but over the years, they have stopped the production of some of their models. It’s important to know this to prevent falling for potential scammers who have been selling counterfeit 3M N95 masks since the beginning of the pandemic, particularly online.
If a hospital or healthcare center were to buy one of these items in bulk or wholesale, their entire staff would be exposed to the virus since these masks would not be legitimate and won’t offer the right amount of virus protection. But, not only the healthcare field can be affected by these scams, since N95 masks have a wide variety of uses in other work fields whose workers would also be left inadequately protected.
Some of the most popular 3M N95 mask models no longer in production are:
- 3M Aura Particulate Respirator N95 9210
- 3M Aura Particulate Respirator N95 9211 Plus 9211+
- 3M Drywall Sanding Valved Respirator N95 8511DA1-2A
- 3M Particulate Respirator 8511 N95
- 3M Sanding and Fiberglass Respirator N95
Some 3M N95 mask models that are still in production, and are some of the most popular ones, include the 3M 8210 and 3M 8511, as well as the 3M 1860, which is a surgical N95 mask model.
A little information about 3M’s work with N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic
3M is an American company specialized in the production of all types of PPE for many different work industries. They’re based in Maplewood, Minnesota, and have factories all around the world, being the number one source for N95 masks not only inside the USA but globally as well.
As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which healthcare centers have been needing N95 masks to work safely, significantly increasing the demand for this item, 3M has doubled their production of these masks since January. Their next goal is the production of 2 billion N95 masks across the globe by the end of the year and, according to their website, they’re on track to achieve it.
Why is there so much attention surrounding N95 masks?
Sometimes it’s easy to get lost with all the news about the pandemic, with terms we weren’t familiar with before, like the N95 masks, which have been on the news a lot lately. These are disposable face masks, considered the best ones at filtering viruses, even more than surgical masks, making them a crucial item for virus protection in all healthcare settings where the exposure is much higher.
These masks are also called N95 respirators because they’re named after a classification for respirators used in the USA for manufacturing these items. This is established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, known most commonly by their acronym NIOSH. They are a federal agency, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meant to provide informational resources to prevent work-related accidents and diseases in the country.
One of these resources is this classification, used by manufacturers in the making of respirators. These items are important in work environments where workers are exposed to particles that, when inhaled either acutely or chronically, can have negative effects on a person’s respiratory health. The name used to refer to these particles is respiratory hazards. Respirators filter them out when the user inhales, preventing them from entering their respiratory tract and damaging them.
The classification established by NIOSH assigns a name to respirators following two characteristics: their resistance to oil, which is important to determine if they can filter out particles with these molecules, and their filtration efficacy for airborne particles, which determines the number of particles with a size as small as 0.3 micrometers they can filter out from the air that is being inhaled and exhaled.
N95 masks, according to this naming system, are those with no oil resistance (the ‘N’ indicates this), therefore they can’t filter out oil-based particles, and with a filtration rate of 95% (as you might have guessed, the ‘95’ indicates this), meaning they can filter out a minimum of 95% of the airborne particles. This means they can protect, with a 95% efficacy, against not only viruses like the flu or the novel coronaviruses, but also dust, smoke, and other allergens.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to be protected, but we also have to ensure our frontline workers are getting the protection they need. Let’s reserve these medical-grade respirators to them, as recommended by the CDC, and wear reusable cloth masks in public settings where social distancing is possible.
They can also be made at home and can be used by kids over the age of 2 if they’re made in the corresponding size for their face.