At the moment, the biggest threat the world is facing is the COVID-19 pandemic, and an unexpected disease called the coronavirus disease 2019 because it’s caused by a new species of coronavirus, the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). This virus has severely affected the physical health of the United States population, causing countless deaths. But, it has also affected the mental health and financial stability of many people across the globe.
One of the most affected sectors has been the healthcare field, with facilities receiving such an enormous amount of patients that it surpasses their capacity, collapsing after becoming overwhelmed.
As a result of this, the amount of supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) they’ve been needing every day to stay protected has significantly increased, and this has caused shortages of the most important items in the USA, leaving workers unprotected in settings where they’re closely exposed to the virus.
The use of face masks for protection has been an ongoing topic of discussion throughout the year and, until the vaccine has been completely studied and proven effective for preventing the transmission of COVID-19, the use of masks is the most effective resource to achieve this. N95 masks in particular have been considered effective for this, so in this article, we’ll discuss some of the most popular N95 mask models.
The most popular N95 mask models used
During the holidays, in particular, people have been seeking extra protection. With all the traveling and family reunions, staying safe is very important, since cases have already been increasing across the world over the last month.
N95 masks have been one of the most sought after face masks for protection during the holidays for this reason since, as we’ll explain later, they’re considered the most effective face mask for protection against COVID-19.
3M is the name that usually comes up when talking about reputable sources and brands for N95 masks since a lot of scams and counterfeit product sellers have been popping up throughout the year. 3M N95 masks are considered a high-quality N95 respirator, which is why several of their models have been incredibly popular this year.
For example, the 3M 8210 model is a NIOSH-approved N95 mask without an exhalation valve, but without clearance by the FDA for its use in the healthcare field, and therefore can be used by the general public or in other work settings where there’s exposure to other respiratory hazards.
On the other hand, the 3M 1860 is considered a surgical N95 mask, with approval by the FDA for its use during procedures in which both fluid resistance and filtering properties are necessary. For example, surgeries performed on a COVID-19 patient where the professional is exposed to the release of fluids at high pressures, but also the release of aerosolized viral particles.
Lastly, the 3M 8511 model is another popular model that includes an exhalation valve. However, these aren’t recommended for virus protection or to prevent virus transmission, as they don’t filter out the air as it is being exhaled.
Understanding what constitutes an N95 mask
These masks are a very specific type of disposable face mask used for respiratory protection in several work industries. Because of this, they’re also known as N95 respirators and are considered the most efficient type of face mask for protection during the pandemic, providing high antiviral filtering properties to workers in the healthcare field who are exposed every day to the virus very closely. This level of virus protection has turned them into some of the most valuable and scarce items in hospitals during the pandemic.
A respirator is a face mask with very high filtering abilities, which allows them to protect people from very small particles that can damage their respiratory tract when inhaled constantly and consistently. This is why these items are mainly used in work settings like construction or mining sites, where workers are exposed to dust or smoke particles every day. By filtering them out, the respirator prevents the user from inhaling them.
The name ‘N95’ has a meaning, which is assigned to them by the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH). This federal agency is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and they make recommendations to prevent work-related injuries or illnesses. As part of their job, they regulate respirators based on a classification they created, which names respirators based on their efficacy to filter out oil-based particles and their filtration rate.
According to that classification, N95 masks can’t filter out particles with oil in them and can filter out a minimum of 95% of the airborne particles in the air. This makes them an optimal face mask for filtering out microorganisms with a very small size, like the flu virus, the SARS-CoV-2, or the tuberculosis bacteria. Among their many uses, their role in the healthcare field has been vital this year.
Even though N95 masks are very effective for the protection against the coronavirus, we want to remind our readers that the CDC urges people to not wear this or any other medical-grade mask that is critical in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, including surgical masks, KN95 masks, and face shields.
Instead, the preferred method of protection for the general public in low-risk public situations is the reusable cloth mask, which can be found easily for sale online in multiple sizes, including those for kids above the age of 2. People can buy them in bulk and wholesale, or make them themselves at home.