The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) as PPEs are widely used to prevent disease transmission. The SARS-CoV-2 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets and wearing face masks is one way to decrease the risk of getting infected.
The N95 respirator, popularly called the N95 mask, is a respiratory filter worn on the face that blocks tiny particles before they can reach the wearer’s lungs. There are seven kinds of particulate filtering facepiece respirators and the N95 respirator is the most popular among them. An N95 respirator can filter at least 95% of airborne pathogens. However, the N95 respirator is not resistant to oil.
Surgical mask VS N95 respirator
There is a significant difference between the surgical mask and the N95 respirator. A surgical mask creates a barrier between the nose and mouth from potential pathogens surrounding the wearer. It is loose-fitting, disposable, and its edges do not create a seal around the mouth and nose.
An N95 respirator, on the other hand, is designed to provide a face-to-respirator seal and effectively filters airborne particles by at least 95%. The edges of an N95 respirator creates a seal around your mouth and nose. The N95 respirator is commonly used in hospitals but is now being used by the general public for protection against COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend the N95 respirator for general public use as these supplies are considered critical and must be reserved for healthcare workers. However, its excellent filtering ability has encouraged shoppers to choose the N95 respirator over other types of face masks, such as cloth masks and surgical masks.
If you are among those who want the N95 respirator for protection against SARS-CoV-2, be sure to choose your N95 respirator properly and buy it from a legit store selling genuine medical supplies.
How to choose an N95 respirator
Pick an N95 respirator that is approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the agency that conducts research and provides guidance on occupational safety. Additionally, go for a reliable brand that has been around for years. 3M is a leading provider of N95 respirators produced in the US. It is also important to pick the right model and size so that your N95 respirator fits you perfectly and creates a face seal without any air leaks.
Where to buy an N95 respirator in your hometown
Buying an N95 respirator requires you to carefully check product listings as well as the store where you are buying it from. Get your N95 respirator from a reputable shop that sells only NIOSH-certified N95 respirators.
Visit a drugstore and check for available N95 respirators. You will see numerous models and sizes sold at different prices. You can save more if you buy in packs than buying a single N95 respirator.
If you prefer to shop online, you may go straight to the manufacturer’s website and check the different models and sizes they carry.
It is also a good idea to buy from a third-party shop that offers N95 respirators and other medical supplies. Of course, you will have to choose a reliable shop with a lot of existing customers and excellent reviews. These shops normally carry several brands and have competitive offers. Clinical Supplies USA, for instance, has a wide array of American-made 3M N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment. It is a one-stop-shop for your PPE needs.
Buying an N95 respirator online
Before buying an N95 respirator from a third-party shop or website that you are not familiar with, make sure they are legit and only sell genuine N95 respirators. Here are some tips to help you decide:
- Check product listings and read feedback from previous shoppers.
- Find out if they’ve been selling the same products for quite some time and have gained loyal customers.
- Look at the quantity in stock. In a time where there is an N95 respirator shortage, those that have “unlimited stocks” might be selling counterfeit N95 respirators.
- Check the website’s email address if it is connected to the website or only to a free email account.
- See if the website is poorly made or even unfinished. Look for poor grammar, typos, and other errors. You don’t want to buy your N95 respirator from a store that can’t even come up with a good website or give you a pleasant shopping experience.
Counterfeit N95 respirators
A counterfeit N95 respirator is the last thing you need in a pandemic. These N95 respirators are falsely marketed and claim to be approved by the NIOSH and may not provide appropriate protection against airborne particles.
Here are signs that an N95 respirator may be counterfeit:
- It does not have any markings.
- The filtering N95 respirator or headband does not show an approval (TC) number.
- Details printed on the N95 respirator are misspelled.
- The packaging has decorative fabric or add-ons.
- The N95 respirator has ear loops in place of headbands.
A NIOSH-approved N95 respirator has external markings that allow you to identify if it is genuine or not. If you do not see the following markings on the N95 respirator you wish to purchase, it might be counterfeit:
- Approval (TC) number
- Model number
- Lot number
- Filter case and filter efficiency level
- NIOSH logo or the name itself
- Brand name or registered trademark
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the demand for the N95 respirator soar at unprecedented levels. But don’t get too excited about buying the first N95 respirator you find. Do your research and pick the appropriate N95 respirator from a reliable store. You simply cannot take a risk when it comes to protecting your health.