N95 Respirators and COVID-19

N95 respirators and surgical masks are two examples of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE refers to any equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, or, in the time of COVID-19, biological hazards. This blog will explain the differences between N95 face masks and surgical masks as well as their importance in preventing the spread of diseases.

First, it is important to note that medical authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not recommend that the general public uses N95 masks. At times like this, N95 materials are critical supplies that should be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders. The CDC instead advises that members of the public use cloth face coverings while outside their homes.

While N95 masks and surgical masks serve similar purposes, they have distinct differences. The N95 respirator is a respiratory protection device designed to achieve a close facial fit and highly-efficient filtration of airborne particles. The designation ‘N95’ refers to the mask's ability, when exposed to particles, to block at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) airborne particles. Additionally, the edges of the respirator are specifically designed to form a complete seal around the nose and mouth. When properly fitted, the filtration effectiveness of the N95 respirator far outweighs that of surgical face masks. Despite this, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of disease spreading.

A surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable mask that serves to create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the mask-wearer and potential contaminants within the immediate environment. Surgical masks come in many different types and thicknesses, thus having varying abilities to protect users from liquid contaminants. These characteristics also affect the ability to breathe through the mask and how well it protects the user. When worn properly, surgical masks help in blocking large particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain viruses or bacteria from reaching the mouth and nose. However, surgical masks are generally not sufficient in filtering very small particles that could be transmitted by coughs or sneezes.

There are two main similarities among the N95 and surgical masks. First, they are both tested for fluid resistance, filtration efficiency (both particle filtration efficiency and bacterial filtration efficiency), flammability, and biocompatibility. Second, they should both never be shared or reused. All FDA-approved N95 masks are labeled as single-use, disposable devices, and should be treated as such. If an N95 becomes damaged or soiled, or if breathing becomes overly-difficult, the respirator should be removed, discarded, and replaced. To safely discard an N95 respirator, place it in a bag before throwing it in the trash. After handling a used respirator, always wash your hands. Non-N95 surgical masks should be handled similarly once they become soiled.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, the N95 mask and surgical mask have become a part of everyday life. While the more sophisticated N95 mask should be left for medical and front-line professionals, any type of mask is a responsible addition to your wardrobe. For N95 masks, look no further than Aerospace Buying.

At Aerospace Buying, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you source N95 respirators and N95 masks. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, call us at 1-434-321-4470 or email us at sales@aerospacebuying.com. Our team of dedicated account managers is standing by and will respond to you in 15 minutes or less.



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March 22, 2021

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