PPE such as N95 respirators and surgical masks are examples of equipment that can be used to protect a person’s face from being contaminated by particles or fluids. One of the most significant distinctions between a surgical mask and a N95 filtering facepiece is that surgical masks are intended for use by those working in the medical care industry.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts tests and awards certifications for N95 masks to ensure that the filtered facepieces are able to remove at least 95% of airborne particles from the wearer’s breathing zone. There are certain manufacturers who provide surgical-grade N95-filtered facepiece respirators. These respirators have been tested and approved as a respirator by NIOSH. In addition, the FDA has given its approval for their fluid-resistant design. Because they are made to have a snug fit and filter both large and small particles, including aerosols, N95 filtering facepiece respirators offer superior protection against particles in the air compared to surgical masks or face coverings made of cloth. This is because they filter both large and small particles.
Please ensure that you are wearing each mask correctly by paying close attention to the instructions. If the mask does not form a tight seal on the user’s face due of issues such as facial hair interfering with the seal, or if the mask is not worn properly, then the mask does not give any protection to the user. It is capable of filtering out 95% of the airborne particles in the environment when worn properly (with a N95 mask establishing a tight seal with the user’s face).
However, there is no evidence that can be considered conclusive that N95 respirators have a superior clinical efficacy. The wearers of N95 respirators are protected from breathing in small particulate matter because the respirators are designed to prevent inhalation, they are required to meet with certain filtering criteria, and they are placed firmly over the face, which prevents facial seals from leaking. If the N95 respirator is approved by NIOSH and the proper fit is attained, it has the potential to filter as much as 95% of the airborne particles.
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