Which surgical mask do most healthcare professionals use?

Surgical masks now come in a variety of colors. People in all walks of life enjoy the pop of color added to surgical masks. However, the color does not make so much difference. The surgical mask still functions the way it is. Surgical masks are now part of common households because of the strict protocols of wearing masks in public. Masks have proven themselves effective in slowing down the progression of viral transmission.

The habit of wearing surgical masks started with healthcare workers. Healthcare experts were the ones that recommended surgical masks as a protective mask for people to wear. Surgical masks have been a hospital staple. The surgical mask has been a purposeful mask in a number of medical incidents. But there is a difference in the surgical mask that people wear to the surgical mask that the healthcare workers use.

The surgical mask for healthcare workers

The surgical mask that healthcare workers use varies. On common occasions, healthcare workers use the common disposable surgical mask. This particular surgical mask is suitable for occasions like a check-up, simple surgeries that do not exhibit a surge in blood, and other incidents that are not grave.

The other surgical mask that healthcare workers use is the ASTM series. The ASTM series mask is a medical mask classified by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM is responsible for creating standards with the aim of elevating the efficiency and protection of products like surgical masks.

The ASTM series surgical masks are suitable for medical incidents where viral contact is high. This particular surgical mask has three levels that correspond to a specific efficiency.

The ASTM surgical mask level 1 has a bacterial and particulate efficiency of 95%. This efficiency from the ASTM surgical mask is similar to the N95 mask. This surgical mask level can resist blood up to 80 mmHg. The ASTM surgical mask levels 2 and 3 both have bacterial and particulate efficiency of 98%. However, they differ in fluid resistance. The ASTM surgical mask level 2 can resist 120 mmHg while level 3 can resist 160 mmHg.

Of all the ASTM levels, the ASTM surgical mask levels 1 and 2 are the most convenient. It is breathable and comfortable. The ASTM surgical mask level 3 is more suitable in exigent situations. All of the ASTM surgical mask levels pass the ISO standards. Which means all of the surgical mask levels are safe.

Do healthcare workers use colored surgical masks?

Yes, they do. Healthcare workers use other colors like green, white, and pink. These colors do not mean anything at all. Also, the colors do not affect the efficiency of the surgical mask. The colors of the surgical mask are dependent on the decision of the manufacturer.

With the pandemic, healthcare workers practice the habit of putting on multiple layers of common disposable surgical masks. This habit is safe and does not harm healthcare workers at all. Wearing multiple layers of surgical masks does not obstruct breathing nor a contributor to oxygen deprivation. This practice is a result of the scarcity of the N95 mask.

Putting on multiple layers of the surgical mask does not incite added filtration efficiency. Since the common disposable surgical mask offers only about 70%-80% filtration efficiency, wearing multiple layers of it can help lessen viral contamination.

Another notable habit of healthcare workers is wearing a surgical mask for an extended period of time. This is a recommendation from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the depleting supply of surgical masks. Every shift, healthcare workers doff the surgical mask properly.

How filtration is done by the surgical mask?

The surgical mask can filter the air. Since the surgical mask is a 3-ply mask, there are several layers that air has to go through. The blue part of the surgical mask traps the particles that the air is carrying from the outside. Also, the first layer is responsible for preventing fluids from coming inside the mask. The second layer of the surgical mask does most of the filtering magic. Made from melt-blown fabric, the second layer of the surgical mask traps more particles from the air. The third layer of the surgical mask filters the remaining particles.  The third layer is responsible for holding fluid particles from the inside.

What can people do to help healthcare workers?

One thing that people can do is to use other alternatives to the surgical mask. By choosing an alternative, people help healthcare workers preserve the depleting supply of surgical masks. With more surgical masks in-store, more healthcare workers can utilize the mask.

Other alternatives to the surgical mask include the following:

Cloth Mask

Cloth masks come in a variety of designs and colors. The good thing about cloth masks is they are reusable. People can wash the cloth masks and reuse them the next day. It has the convenience and comfort

KN95 Mask

The KN95 mask is a protective mask from China. It is the counterpart of the American N95 mask. Not all people use this mask because of the fact that it is made in China. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clears the KN95 and is safe to use.

Healthcare workers are a vital workforce of today’s time. Even before the pandemic, they have been the unsung heroes. The pandemic exposed their value together with wearing masks. A mask will always be better than no mask. 

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