Masks have been a staple among households across the world. In fact, most countries require their people to wear masks in public. This is to decrease the cases of people who have contacted the virus. Thus, masks are known to be the protection of people.

If protection is on the table, not all masks are made the same. In fact, a study has been made as to which masks have proven to provide great to superior levels of protection. Researchers have gathered 14 different types of masks. In the study, the wearer wore a specific mask and put his head in the chamber with a laser. The wearer with a mask would talk and breathe so that the laser would detect the particles. Out of the 14 masks, only two types of mask emerged to be promising; the N95 respirator and the surgical mask.

Indeed the two masks can provide great to superior protection. The N95 respirator is known to be the most trusted facepiece respirator to be worn in a pandemic. The surgical mask, on the other hand, has been the standard mask to be worn in hospitals whenever they will conduct operations and other forms of medical procedures.

Since the start of the pandemic, the N95 respirator and the surgical mask became the most in-demand masks used by people. In addition to that demand, there are over a million pieces of the N95 respirator and the surgical mask used every day. As a result, there has been a declared scarcity for both the N95 respirator and the surgical mask. Companies have been doing their best to supply the overwhelming demand for both masks.

How do these masks work?

Both masks have straps that are worn. The surgical mask is worn around the area of the ears while the N95 respirator is worn over the head. The correct way of putting on a surgical mask is the blue part is on the outside and the white part is on the inside. In between these parts is a thin non-woven fabric that does the filtration magic. A surgical mask is water-proof. The N95 respirator is commonly white in color. Some models are blue because those models are surgical N95 respirators. The N in the N95 corresponds to the ability of the respirator to be not oil resistant. The 95 stands for filtration ability.

Both masks offer protection. They can filter free-floating particles in the air that may contain strains of harmful microorganisms that can trigger a pandemic. Both are differently designed and created but cater to one specific purpose.

What seems to be the difference between the N95 respirator and the surgical mask?

The N95 respirator and the surgical mask are both made for protection. They filter particles that can potentially harm people. However, the N95 respirator is way better than the surgical mask in various aspects. These aspects separate both masks.

  • Filtration

In terms of filtration, the N95 respirator is way better than the surgical mask. Although there are surgical mask types that can be at par with the N95 respirator, still the efforts of the surgical mask infiltration are still less than the N95 respirator. In the study mentioned above, the surgical mask was in fact the second-best mask to be worn. It is because there were more particles that were seen in the laser compared to the N95 respirator. Aside from that, the N95 respirator can filter the air exhaled better than the surgical mask.

  • Seal

Seal refers to the barrier created around the area of the nose and mouth. The N95 respirator is better in terms of the seal. The seal around the area of the nose and mouth is tighter than the surgical mask. This tighter seal prevents any form of leakage. And not only that, the area of the cheeks and chin sealed. In the case of the surgical mask, air can still flow in between the spaces of both cheeks and chin. The seal around the area of the nose and mouth are looser than the N95 respirator. This can induce leakage; leading to bacterial and viral contamination.

  • Durability

As for durability, the N95 respirator is a little thicker than the surgical mask. The N95 respirator is made from non-latex material and it went through a flammability test. The N95 respirator cannot also be destroyed unless intentional. In the case of the surgical mask, it is thinner than the N95 respirator. The straps of the N95 respirator are stronger than the surgical mask. With the thin texture of the surgical mask, it can be easily destroyed.

  • Comfort and convenience

In terms of comfort, the surgical mask is more comfortable to wear compared to the N95 respirator. If worn for long hours, the N95 respirator can induce pain and aches in the area of the nose and mouth compared to the surgical mask. As for convenience, both can deliver convenience but the surgical mask can be easily bought in stores compared to the N95 respirator. The latter is more in demand.

Knowing the differences between the two masks can make the people choose which mask will suit their preference and need. The N95 respirator is better than the surgical mask. But that does not mean that the protection of the surgical mask is invalidated. It is still effective. However, both masks experience scarcity. Therefore, it is best to leave the mask to people who are working on the frontlines. They need protection to save millions of lives. 

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