Face masks have turned into one of the most prominent topics of discussion, and all the different types of face masks can be confusing. From N95 masks to KN95 masks, to surgical masks and the reusable cloth masks, we can get lost with all the terms used to talk about masks, and people often think they’re all the same.
However, all these different types of masks have different uses, and some of them need to be specifically used in the medical field. 1860 N95 masks are a model used specifically in certain healthcare settings, which makes them have certain specific characteristics. In this article, we’ll explain what a regular N95 mask is, what the 1860 model is, and who manufactures them.
What does a regular N95 mask do?
During the pandemic, N95 respirators have been one of the most talked-about items due to the shortages being reported across the United States. This particular disposable face mask has been praised for its antiviral filtering abilities, which is why they’re extremely necessary for virus protection in healthcare settings right now. When paired with goggles or other types of eye protection, they offer one of the highest protection rates in situations with high exposure to the virus, like hospitals.
NIOSH, which is the acronym used to refer to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is the entity that established the names of respirators in the USA. They’re a federal agency that is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and aims to help workplaces around the country remain safe by providing them with recommendations and information. They have a classification for respirators based on their oil resistance and level of filtration efficacy.
The ‘N’ is an indication of the lack of oil resistance these respirators have, which means they can’t filter out particles that are oil-based. The ‘95’ references their filtration rate, which is 95% for airborne particles. These are particles with a size of 0.3 micrometers or less, which allows them to travel through the air for long distances. Some non-oil based airborne particles that can be filtered out by these respirators are dust, smoke, and viruses, including the flu virus and the coronavirus.
All respirators intended to be marketed as N95 masks have to go through NIOSH first. They must test the respirators out to make sure they will perform as N95 respirators to ensure workers are getting the type of protection they require. When N95 masks are intended to be used in the healthcare field, they also need to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What is an 1860 N95 mask?
An 1860 N95 mask is a model of face masks manufactured by 3M, one of the main manufacturers of N95 masks in the world. The 1860 model is considered a surgical N95 mask, as they can offer the protection both N95 masks and surgical masks offer.
To be considered a surgical N95 mask, these have to include not only the 95% filtration efficacy of an N95 mask but also a high fluid resistance for them to protect users from splashes or spatter of potentially contaminated fluids released during surgeries and other types of procedures. Since they’re considered both a respirator and a surgical mask, they must have approval from NIOSH and the FDA.
Some of the 1860 N95 mask model most prominent features include:
- Approvals from both the FDA and NIOSH
- No exhalation valve
- Advanced electrostatic media filter
- Comes in the color teal
- Recommended for their use in the healthcare industry
- Braided comfort straps and nose foam
3M, in an informational technical bulletin, explains that surgical masks are those manufactured to be used in surgical procedures and are regulated by the FDA as a medical device. They must include fluid resistance as their key feature, which means they can prevent penetration of liquids at a high-pressure stream, like blood coming from a punctured human artery. This is what sets surgical masks apart from regular N95 masks, like their 3M 8511 and 3M 8210 models. And surgical N95 masks are a combination of the two, offering both of their properties.
A little information about 3M
3M is known to be one of the most prominent companies producing personal protective equipment during the pandemic. They’ve gained special prominence for being the biggest company when it comes to the manufacturing of N95 respirators. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they’ve worked towards increasing their production of these masks, doubling it since January.
Their main goal last year was to produce 2 billion N95 masks around the world. Out of them, 95 million have been produced inside the USA as part of their efforts to prioritize the domestic supply of these masks, following the Defense Production Act invoked in April by the federal government.
N95 masks have been very difficult to find for sale, even for hospitals and healthcare facilities that need them the most, and are being prioritized when it comes to the distribution of these items. The bulk and wholesale purchases they need to make get harder every day, which has led to healthcare providers working unprotected during the peaks of COVID-19 cases.
The CDC has been urging the general public to use cloth masks, which are cleanable and reusable, and offer enough protection for daily public activities in combination with social distancing. Kids above the age of 2 can wear them, as they come in different sizes, and they can even be made at home with accessible materials.
Remember to not use medical-grade masks and to reserve them for frontline workers.