COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus species that was previously unknown to us. The first case was reported in December of last year, and now almost one year later, our lives have changed tremendously. We’re now accustomed to wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. Face covering has been the main topic of discussion without a doubt during the year, but one face mask in particular has been the protagonist.
N95 masks, also known as N95 respirators, have been popping up on the news or online websites like Twitter every day. Many questions surround this particular disposable face mask, and most of them revolve around the shortages we’ve been suffering for months now. The question of whether or not first responders and healthcare workers have enough of them has been haunting us all year long.
Another question that comes with N95 masks is what makes them so special? Why are they better than surgical or medical masks? We’ll answer that question in this article, but we’ll also talk about the 3M 9205 N95 mask, and what benefits they have over other N95 mask models.
A brief explanation on N95 masks
Just like surgical masks, N95 masks are disposable face masks, but they’re also considered to be a respirator. N95 masks are the best face mask for virus protection we have available right now, which is why the focus has been on prioritizing their supply to first responders and healthcare workers. The effectiveness of the mask comes from its characteristics.
The name of the face mask comes from the NIOSH classification for respirators. This is an acronym for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an institution that is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and aims to prevent occupational illnesses or injuries. To achieve this, among many other actions, they have the authority to test and certify respirators for their use in certain workplaces, making sure they meet the criteria set for each mask class inside the classification.
Respirators are often used in workplaces where respiratory hazards are present, like mining or construction, and sometimes in healthcare settings too, particularly right now during the pandemic. These are masks or mask-like devices that contain a filter material that traps dangerous particles. When the wearer covers the face and mouth with it, inhalation of these particles is prevented.
The classification from NIOSH groups and names respirators according to how resistant they are to oil, indicated by a letter, and their minimum particulate filtration efficacy, indicated by a number. The first characteristic is designated with the letter N, R, or P, for not resistant, resistant, or oil-proof, respectively. The percentage of minimum particulate filtration efficacy can be either 95, 99, or 100%.
N95 masks are, therefore, not resistant to oil and can filter out at least 95% of the airborne particles in the air. This makes them effective for particles that don’t contain oil and are airborne, meaning that they have a diameter of 0.3 micrometers or less. Such particles include coal smoke, dust, and microorganisms like the flu virus or the coronavirus, which is why they’re an important part of the PPE in healthcare workers and first responders.
The benefits from 3M 9205 N95 masks
The 3M 9205 N95 mask is a NIOSH-approved respirator efficient for non-oil based particles that is perfect for people with eyewear, like glasses. This face mask has been designed to prevent eyewear fogging because the air is exhaled away from the nose panel. The design also allows for a well fit to the nose and eye contours, with more room for eyewear.
Additionally, the flat-fold design of the face mask makes it convenient for storage or portability. Other benefits include:
- The use of soft inner materials for more comfort.
- An adjustable nose clip for a more secure and custom seal around the nose.
- An innovative chin tab that’s an alternative to the traditional ear loops or headbands, which allows for ease of positioning, donning, and adjustment.
3M’s efforts with N95 masks during the pandemic
Right now, the main provider of N95 masks inside the United States and the world, is 3M. By now, you’ve probably heard or read the name of this American company, and it’s because they’ve been highly involved in the production and distribution of the most necessary supplies and PPE items needed to face the pandemic.
This American company is an established manufacturer and distributor of PPE and supplies needed in a wide variety of work fields and industries, like face masks, gloves, goggles, and face shields. But, right now they’ve been the most important manufacturer of medical supplies and PPE not only inside the USA, but around the world, in particular of N95 respirators.
With the shortages and scarcity of this necessary item in the future, 3M ramped up their production of N95 masks, doubling their production number since January. But, slowing down isn’t part of their plan, and are hoping to reach the number of 2 billion N95 masks produced worldwide per year. However, with shortages being a big concern inside the country, they’ve also been focusing on increasing as much as possible their domestic production of N95 masks, as well as the importation of them from factories overseas. Some popular 3M N95 mask models are 3M 8210 and 3M 8511.
Other works they’ve done to help with the problems that have come from the pandemic include the distribution of their products to the most needed communities and helping universities, institutes, and other organizations in their research efforts for main pandemic-related problems.
Using any type of face covering, whether it’s a reusable cloth mask, N95 masks, face shields, surgical masks, or N95 masks, is a responsibility everyone has right now. Remember that anyone who uses a face covering is protecting their community, including kids with a face mask in a smaller size. You can find any of these items for sale online, with options to buy in bulk or wholesale as well.