With the pandemic, people are expected to follow three things: Staying at home, Observing social/physical distancing protocols, and wearing a face mask. A mask is the protection of people when social/physical distancing protocols are not observed. This decreases the chance of people not getting in contact with the deadly virus. Though mandated to wear masks, masks themselves are not created equally.
Masks vary in protection and filtration abilities. The most trusted mask to date is the N95 mask. This trust in the N95 mask has been built for years.
The N95 mask is the most in-demand mask in the world. It is because the N95 mask has the ability to filter airborne particles that can potentially trigger a pandemic like this one. In fact, people in the medical profession recommend the N95 mask because of its properties. Unlike the loose-fitting surgical mask, the N95 mask is able to create a tight seal around the area of the nose and the mouth. This tight seal from the N95 mask prevents the wear to have any form of contact with airborne particles in the form of leakage.
Aside from the medical field, the N95 mask has also established its reputation in the field of Construction, Engineering, and Mining. This is due to a fact that the N95 mask is also capable of filtering particles like sand, cement, sawdust, and volatile gases.
With the skyrocketing demand for the N95 mask, it led to its scarcity. Hospitals are running out of supplies for the N95 mask. Online stores are running out of stocks for the N95 mask too. Suppliers and Manufacturers are doing everything they can to meet the worldwide demand for the N95 mask.
Will it be hard for people to find an N95 respirator with an effective mask mandate?
Ever since the pandemic has started, countries across the globe have imposed a mandate that forces people to wear masks in public. Given the fact that the N95 mask is the most trusted and the most in-demand mask, the answer is no.
Several websites have been reported to have stocks of the N95 mask. Suppliers and Manufacturers have been doing efforts to supply more pieces of the N95 mask. With this kind of news from suppliers and manufacturers themselves, this gives hope to people for them to get themselves pieces of the N95 mask. In fact, people have been ordering the N95 mask online as soon as the restock came. N95 masks surely are a basic commodity nowadays.
However, the N95 mask should be left in the hands of the people working in the medical field. They need the N95 mask more than common people do. The N95 mask is what they need for them to be protected from the virus too.
With the mask mandate, what should people do?
In terms of protection and convenience, the FDA approved and NIOSH regulated N95 mask is surely great. But as mentioned earlier, it is best to leave the N95 mask to the medical workers.
What people should do is to resort to alternatives. There are masks that work close enough to an N95 mask. These masks work well, especially when you are only going outside for a short time.
KN95 mask from China
Although this one is from China, you can consider this one as an alternative to the N95 mask. Knowing that it is labeled 95, it works just like the N95 mask of the US. Only buy from trusted websites that sell legit KN95 masks.
FFP2 mask from the European Union
With its filtration ability of 94%, the FFP2 is also considered to be an alternative to the N95 mask. This mask can still provide protection even if it is a percent shorter than the N95 mask. Stores in the US sell the FFP2 mask.
ASTM surgical masks
ASTM surgical masks are not the surgical masks that people know. These masks are medically graded and categorized according to their filtration, their resistance to fluid, and breathability. ASTM surgical masks have three levels. ASTM level 1 works like the N95 mask. The ASTM surgical mask level 1 and the N95 mask both share the filtration ability of 95% against particles of 0.1 microns and bacteria of 3.0 microns in size. The ASTM levels 2 and 3 work beyond the capability of an N95 mask. These masks can filter up to 98% of particles of 0.1 microns and bacteria of 3.0 microns in size.
Of the three masks, the ASTM surgical mask level 1 is the most breathable compared to levels 2 and 3. In the ASTM level, the higher the level, the harder for the wearer to breathe. The ASTM surgical mask level 1 is the safest alternative for the N95 mask.
Cotton-based cloth mask
In the study conducted by a group of scientists, cotton-based cloth masks can help protect wearers from the Covid-19 virus. Ranked third next to the N95 mask and surgical mask, the cloth mask can filter up to 60% of free-floating particles in the air. The good thing about these masks is that it is washable. N95 mask and surgical mask are only good for one-time use. But people are advised to wear face shields while wearing cotton-based cloth masks for double protection.
Suppliers and manufacturers are regaining their strength in meeting the worldwide demand for the N95 mask. The N95 mask is there while most countries are trying their best to lower down positive cases. Without social/physical distancing, an N95 mask is a helpful tool in keeping people protected against the threat of the virus.