What does the term 'N95' mean in N95 Respirator?

You have probably heard about the N95 respirator and how it is the best mask. Protection is the best kind of prevention that any person can do with the current pandemic. Helping you learn about your personal protective equipment (PPE) is also one of the best things that you can do for yourself. 

What is the N95 respirator? What should every user know about the N95 respirator? In this article, we will provide every information you need about some N95 mask quick facts. 


N95 respirators are masks that comply with filter standards. This kind of respirators were given a go by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and

Health (NIOSH) in 1995. In the beginning, it was used for serious communicable diseases such as SARs, tuberculosis, and influenza. The N95 masks are stricter than any of the other masks including the loose-fitting surgical masks. N95 respirators are also expected to have a high filtration efficiency.

What Is An N95 Respirator?

An N95 respirator comes with different meanings, depending on the federal agency, such as:

  • The Food and Drug Administration defines an N95 mask as “a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles.” 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define the N95 respirator as “a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator that has also been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a surgical mask.” 

To give you with an overview of what this combination of letter and numbers, the following are the meanings of the N95 Masks:

N: The letter N stands for “non-oil”. It is a standard level of how present oil based particles are in the mask. It is also known as the respirator rating letter class. Other mask ratings are R and P. This will be discussed in full in the succeeding paragraphs. 

95: The number 95 represents the respiratory efficiency of the mask. The levels are 95, 99, and 99.7 or 100. It is also the same as the HEPA quality filter.

0.3 Microns: The N95 respirator also filters out contaminants. The 0.3 stands for the minimum size of 0.3 microns of particulates that will not pass through the barrier. This is important as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the respiratory airborne particles of the coronavirus are small.

Material: The N95 respirator is made of electrostatic non-woven polypropylene fiber which gives it the best filtration system.

Now that you have an overview of the N95 mask, it is time to go with the specifics:

What Does N95 In N95 Respirator Mean?

There is a meaning behind the N95 in the N85 respirator. To begin, it is important to know that there are different types of disposable particulate respirator. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), categorized that the N95 respirator is a disposable particulate respirator.

What is a disposable particulate respirator? The CDC defines a particulate respirator as “air-purifying respirators because they protect by filtering particles out of the air as you breathe. These respirators protect only against particles—not gases or vapors. Since airborne biological agents such as bacteria or viruses are particles, they can be filtered by particulate respirators.”

What exactly does the classification of a disposable particulate respirator mean? There are different factors in classifying a respirator. The NIOSH standards asks the following: 

  • How does the masks filter air? 
  • How resistant is the mask to oil?

Oil Protection

The non resistance to oil is necessary for the N95 respirator to function properly. According to the NIOSH, there are three different levels of oil protection, such as:

  • N stands for the mask that are not resistant to oil;
  • R stands for a mask that is somewhat resistant to oil; and 
  • P stands for a mask that is oil-proof and strongly resistant.

The N in N95 respirator means that the material is not resistant to oil.

The Filtration System

The N95 respirators come with a 95 percent filtration system. The NIOSH notes that with the combination of the high level of filtration and non-oil based material, the N95 respirator has the best filtration system.

The N95 Is Better Than Any Other Mask

The N95 mask is better than any other mask. The following are the differences and similarities.

  • N95 respirators are approved by the NIOSH for certification while most surgical masks are certified by the FDA.
  • Surgical masks are loose fitting while N95 masks are tight fitting and must fit the user’s face properly.
  • Both masks are tested for a lot of factors that make them good.

So far, the N95 respirator makes the best mask that the world should have. It is amazing and it will help any person to move forward with his life even under the new normal setting of having PPEs, social distancing, and stringent sanitation standards.

N95 Masks Are The Gold Standard

N95 masks are considered as the gold standard. They have all been tested positively for different levels of flammability, respiratory filtration, and the best protection available. It is considered as one of the best things that every person should have in their personal protective equipment (PPE) arsenal. Any person who wants to be protected and who wants to enjoy going out with the right level of protection should have an N95 respirator in stock.

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