Respiratory infections, dust particles, allergies, and various other issues faced by the general public and the medical staff working at various hospitals have always caused serious health problems. These respiratory problems may occur due to various reasons. However, people always need protection against these particles which can cause problems. For this purpose, we have different types of medical and surgical masks.
These masks are used as protective gear to stop the microbes, dust particles, airborne particles, water droplets, and other contaminants that can carry the respiratory infection causing agents. They block these particles and stop them from entering the body with inhaled air. So, they provide great protection. However, we have various types of these masks; some of them are used in hospitals, industries, factories, and some of them are used by the general public.
There are two major types of masks that are under discussion these days; N95 masks and the surgical masks. With the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, people are in search of the best protective tools to protect themselves from the virus. These masks have been available to the people prior to the pandemic, but the basic difference has been noticed by people during the pandemic.
The purpose of both of the masks is protection; however, there are some of the major differences between the two. The following are some of the differences between these N95 masks and surgical masks:
Testing and Approval
Surgical masks are tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States of America. These surgical masks are tested for various qualities and the comfort level. However, on the other hand, the N95 masks are not only tested, they are evaluated thoroughly for various qualities and then approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
N95 masks are tested for their quality, filtration ability, comfort level, reusability, and various other properties. After the testing and evaluation, they are approved by the NIOSH for the sale in markets. These N95 masks contain the NIOSH verification numbers as well.
Purpose of the Usage
Surgical masks are the fluid-resistant masks which can protect the wearer from the large particles, hazardous fluids, microbes, and various other contaminants. These surgical masks protect the wearer from the various chemicals or droplets that can be emitted through the respiratory patients. So, mainly these surgical masks provide protection against larger particles.
On the other hand, N95 masks provide the wearer the protection against the smaller particles which cannot be filtered through any other filter. They are designed specifically to filter 95% of the particles including the smallest viruses as well. So, N95 masks provide an extra level of protection against viruses and the germs.
Fitting on the Face
Surgical masks fit loosely on the face and they have a space left between the nose and masks. They have also some space left from the sides of the mask. So, they may allow the particles to pass through and cause various infections. However, the N95 masks fit tightly on the face and allow no particles to pass through it. They have the maximum protection level.
As we have discussed above that the surgical masks do not fit tightly on the face, so they might have some space left from the size on in between the face or masks. Therefore, it might lead to low filtration ability. So, the particles might enter through the spaces of the surgical mask and cause infection.
While on the other hand, the N95 masks have the tight-fitting ability. This allows them to block maximum particles from entering inside the body with inhaled air. So, they provide 95% protection against the infectious particles.
Surgical masks are mainly used inside the hospital facilities where people are more exposed to the germs. So, it is always recommended that these surgical masks should be discarded after the first encounter of the wearer with some patients. These surgical masks are not that much capable to filter the particles again and again. The material used inside the surgical masks is also not that much good. So, they should be disposed of after the first time use.
However, N95 masks can be reused depending upon the situation. If any part of the N95 mask is broke, it should be discarded immediately and disposed of. When the wearer is exposed to the aerosol-generating procedures, the N95 masks should be disposed of after the encounter. Secondly, if breathing inside the N95 mask becomes heavy, it is an indication that N95 has been used to its limit and now it should be discarded.
Moreover, if the N95 becomes exposed to the blood droplets, various secretions from the patients, and bodily fluids, it should be removed and disposed of. However, unlike surgical masks, there are various techniques that can make these N95 masks reusable. Techniques such as boiling with the high temperature, steam treatment, hydrogen peroxide treatment, UV radiation exposure, and other methods can be used for the decontamination of these N95 masks.
So, these are some of the major differences between the N95 masks and the surgical masks. Due to these limitations of surgical masks, and extra advantages of the N95 masks, people are more attracted to the use of N95 masks. N95 masks are one of the best filtering facepieces available during these days.