As a result of the pandemic, we’ve been hearing a lot about face masks and the many different types there are. From surgical masks to N95 respirators and KN95 masks, and the popular reusable cloth masks, it’s easy to get lost among all the variations of this item, which most people thought were all the same thing.
Many people don’t know that different face masks have different uses, and there are specific ones for the medical field. Among them is the 3M 1860 model, a very specific type of N95 respirator used in the healthcare field. To learn more about this mask, keep reading.
First, let’s understand what a regular N95 mask is
N95 masks have been at the forefront during the pandemic, with a lot of the news lately being about the shortages of this item around the United States. This is a very particular type of disposable face mask that has been praised for its antiviral properties, being the mask that offers the most virus protection at the moment. They can be paired with face shields or goggles, and are currently a crucial part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) used in hospitals.
The name of this mask is established by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They are a federal agency that makes sure workplaces across the USA are safe by providing them with recommendations and information based on science and research. They also regulate respirators, establishing a classification with a naming system based on two characteristics: oil resistance and filtration rate.
The ‘N’ indicates that a respirator isn’t resistant to oil, and the ‘95’ refers to their percentage of minimum particulate filtration efficacy. This means N95 masks are respirators that can’t filter out particles with oil and can filter out at least 95% of them even if they’re airborne. Such particles include not only dust, smoke, pollen, metals, and other small particles, but also viruses like the flu or the novel coronavirus.
Since this classification is established by NIOSH, this institution must test all respirators manufactured to be classified as N95. If they meet the requirements, they get the approval, which is the only way to certify the mask will work effectively as an N95 mask. In the case of N95 masks intended to be used in the healthcare field, known as surgical N95 masks, they need additional approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), like all medical equipment.
What are 3M 1860 masks?
The 3M 1860 mask is a type of particular respirator that is also considered a surgical mask, since it can provide respiratory protection against biological particles that are airborne, meaning that they have a size of 0.3 micrometers and can travel through the air and transmit infectious diseases.
This mask is considered an N95 surgical mask, and it has approvals by both the NIOSH and the FDA. It has resistance to fluids that might come in the form of splashes or spatter, including blood and other fluids that might be contaminated, protecting healthcare workers against them.
Some other features it comes with include:
- Approvals by both NIOSH as an N95 mask
- Advanced electrostatic media filter
- No exhalation valve
- Nose-foam for better seal around the face
- Color teal
- Recommended industry is the healthcare field
- Braided comfort straps
According to an informational technical bulletin published by 3M, surgical masks are those cleared to be used as a medical device by the FDA, manufactured for their use in the healthcare field to be used during surgical procedures. The key feature they must include is fluid resistance, meaning that they can resist penetration by streams of liquid at high pressure like, for example, if a human artery is punctured. This sets them apart from regular N95 masks, like the 3M 8210 and the 3M 8511, so surgical N95 respirators are those with both approval by NIOSH and the FDA.
Some information about 3M
3M has been a very popular company during the pandemic since they have stepped out as one of the main suppliers of all types of medical PPE, including the highly valuable and sought after N95 masks. They’re an American company that specializes in the manufacturing of all types of PPE but have gained recognition for their products in the healthcare field.
They’re based in Maplewood, Minnesota, but have factories all around the world, being the main supplier of N95 masks during the pandemic not only inside the USA but across the globe. They have made incredible efforts to increase their production of N95 masks, doubling it since January. Their next goal is the production of 2 billion N95 respirators globally by the end of the year.
Out of them, around 95 million have been produced for the USA. This was done as part of their efforts to prioritize the domestic supply of these respirators, as instructed by the federal government through the Defense Production Act, which was invoked in April.
Right now, N95 masks are difficult to find for sale. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities need to buy these items in bulk and wholesale, since they need to protect their workers who are fighting every day during the pandemic, and these masks offer the best protection they can get. To help them out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages the general public, which includes kids above the age of 2, to reserve the medical-grade masks for frontline work, and wear cloth masks instead when in public settings, always combined with social distancing.