As the pandemic individuals and organizations are exploring various different types of mask alternatives to remain protected. However, research has shown that the N95 respirator masks are the most effective at preventing contraction and the spread of the disease.
What Is The Difference Between Medical N95 And Regular N95?
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the body that rates and regulates the standard N95 respirator masks. They are designed to provide up to 95% filtration efficiency. Those who work in the healthcare industry will usually use a different set of N95 masks which are the surgical N95 respirator masks. The FDA has approved the surgical subset of this mask as a surgical mask which provides fluid resistance. The fluid resistance is potentially the biggest difference between surgical and regular N95.
The regular N95 masks often have an exhalation valve embedded in the mask to make it more comfortable to wear when necessary. It’s for this reason that medical professionals cannot use these regular N95’s when they are working around source control or in a sterile environment. The unfiltered breath can contaminate the patients, which is why the surgical N95’s are used instead.
How Do I Know If I Have An N95 Mask?
If you are eager to purchase and utilize an N95 face mask, then there are numerous details that you should consider. First, it is important to note that the CDC has released a warning regarding counterfeit N95 masks being sold on the market, both in-stores directly as well as online. N95 respirator masks have soared in demand as of late due to fears surrounding the coronavirus. They are essential PPE for use in schools as well as hospitals so it is vital that you can recognize authentic products.
Fake N95 masks are being created with the seal “NIOSH” on the mask or the packaging. As such, this label will not guarantee that you have purchased an N95 mask.
N95 face masks should have markings on the filtering facepiece respirator as well as a TC number on the facepiece respirator or headband. They should have clear NIOSH markings with NIOSH spelt the correct way. There should be no decorative addons to these masks and an authentic mask will have a headband rather than an ear loop. An approved respirator will also have a label on the package as well as an approval number.
N95 Mask Care And Maintenance
It’s essential that every person who uses an N95 face mask is doing their best to allow for extended use. One of the main considerations here is that the respirator in the mask must keep its fit and function. If the respirator becomes contaminated at any time, the mask must be thrown away and a different one should take its place. Research has suggested that the maximum length of continued use in a non-dusty environment is around seven or eight hours, however, this will be different depending on the environment you are in.
It is highly recommended that you use a cleanable face shield as well as the mask to protect it from getting contaminated. If the respirator comes into contact with blood, nasal secretions or any bodily fluids then it needs to be discarded immediately.
It’s not possible to know how many times you will safely be able to reuse the N95 face mask, but you should still do your best to maintain them at all times. This will include cleaning your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before you touch or adjust the mask in any way. You should also avoid touching the inside of the mask at all costs.
When you are finished using the product for the day, it’s recommended that you hang them in a designated storage area to keep them clean. Ensure that there is a paper bag or breathable container between all masks to minimize potential cross-contamination. Do not allow your face mask to touch anyone else’s or it will need to be discarded immediately. When you take your face mask out to reuse it, make sure that the storage container is cleaned thoroughly, or throw it away and get a new one for next time.
Finally, to keep things as safe as possible, you should always use a pair of clean gloves when you are putting on the N95. Get rid of these gloves as soon as you have conducted the user seal check and your mask is sitting comfortably on your face. If you need to touch the mask for any reason throughout the day, do not do so with unclean hands.
Where To Buy Approved N95 Masks
There are various businesses that do sell N95 respirator face masks. While some companies sell the masks individuals, others supply the masks in bulk for use in hospitals, businesses and schools. You can find a full list of approved manufacturers of N95 masks online. However, it is important to be wary when buying from a supplier that you have not used before. Specifically, you need to examine the wording used to advertise the masks being sold. Some companies will advertise “N95 equivalent” masks. It is important to understand that these are not authentic N95 face masks. Instead, these are what the company deems to be masks that offer the same level of protection. However, without the full approval, there is no way to guarantee this.
The only way to ensure that you have found a seller that is selling authentic N95 masks will be to check the full product description. This should provide you with all the information you need and state clearly that the mask you are buying is medically approved.
Taking care of your N95 face mask is not optional and all of the precautions have been put in place with the safety of everyone in mind. Now more than ever, face masks are an essential part of everyday life.