The N95 mask and the other types of respirators have become very popular nowadays because of the coronavirus pandemic. The N95 mask and other filtering respirators are among the protective devices used by the medical and healthcare workers to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets produced while talking, sneezing, and coughing. The b is known to efficiently filter air particles as well as respiratory droplets and other bodily fluids.
What is an N95 mask
An N95 mask is a type of disposable face mask that has 95% filtering efficiency. Aside from the medical field, the N95 mask is also widely used in the construction, and mining industries. The N95 mask is considered as an effective PPE that provides protection not only against dust but also for smoke, ashes, and other non-oil-based contaminants.
The N95 mask is approved and regulated by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The agency has approved several brands to manufacture different types of N95 masks and other filtering respirators. One of the trusted brands is 3M. The brand 3M is known for its efficient, durable, and comfortable N95 respirators and other protective devices. Among the popular 3M N95 mask models are the 3M 1860 N95 mask, 3M 8511 N95 mask, and 3M 8210 N95 mask.
Aside from 3M, there are other brands and manufacturers that are selling NIOSH-approved N95 masks and face respirators. The list of brands or manufacturers as well as the specific models can be found on the official website of NIOSH.
What is an N100 mask?
The N100 mask is somewhat the same as the N95 mask. It is designed to protect the wearer from airborne particles as well as respiratory droplets and other non-oil contaminants. This type of face mask is also regulated by the United States NIOSH. 3M is also selling this type of face respirator. It is also available in different models, depending on its intended purpose. Just like the N95 mask, the N100 mask has a lightweight and comfortable design. Both the N95 mask and N100 mask need to be worn with proper fitting to make sure its efficiency.
N95 mask and N100 mask compared to other respirators
Aside from the N95 mask, NIOSH has approved other types of filtering respirators and these respirators have different letter designations – N, R, P. These three letters mean whether or not the mask is suitable to use in the environment where oil is present. Here’s how the three designations differ:
- N = This type of mask is not suitable for oil and can lose its effectiveness if the mask comes in contact with oil. An example of this face mask is the N95 mask and N100 respirators.
- R = This face mask is designed to be oil resistant. Unlike the N95 mask, face masks with R designation can work as expected in a small amount or incidental exposure to oil.
- P = Mask with this letter designation is designed to be oil-proof. It means that the face mask can perform well even if it is exposed to oil
Here are the other types of respirators approved by NIOSH. These masks vary depending on if it is oil-resistant or not and depending on their filtering capacity.
- N99 filtering respirator - Not resistant to oil and can filter at least 99% of airborne particles
- R95 filtering respirator - Mild resistant to oil and can filter at least 95% of airborne particles
- P95 filtering respirator - Strong resistant to oil and can filter at least 95% of airborne particles
- P99 filtering respirator - Strong resistant to oil and can filter at least 99% of airborne particles
- P100 filtering respirator - Strong resistant to oil and can filter at least 99.97% of airborne particles
The demand for N95 mask and N100 mask in recent times
In recent times, because of the coronavirus, the N95 mask has become in demand. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an increasing demand for the N95 mask. Unfortunately, the supply is not enough. The US has imported millions of N95 masks already and the manufacturers are increasing their production, but the supply is still not enough.
The issue of the supply shortage remains unsolved until today. However, a few solutions have been implemented to make sure that there is enough N95 mask supply for the medical and healthcare frontline workers.
One of the solutions is to prioritize the medical workers and businesses in purchasing the N95 mask. The N95 mask is no longer available for the public. You can no longer easily buy an N95 mask online nor buy in bulk or wholesale. The public is instead encouraged to wear reusable cloth mask and other protective devices
The US government has also partnered with Battelle through its Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System. The purpose is to facilitate the decontamination of the N95 masks commonly used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Though there has been a lot of issues about the reuse and decontamination of the N95 mask, the FDA has approved this process in order to address the short supply of the N95 mask.
The coronavirus continues to challenge the world. It affected not just the United States but also the other 200 countries and territories around the globe. Until today, no vaccine is available. People are slowly adapting to the new normal and aside from wearing a face mask, social distancing should be observed.