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  • What is so special about N95 mask as compared to normal mask?

    Confused between using N95, surgical or cloth mask for protection during the pandemic? Looking out for detailed comparison online? On tihs page our experts shall respond to your query.

    Most of the health expert tells us to wear either N95 mask or Surgery mask instead of cloth mask in order to save from COVID wave. What is so special about N95 mask as compared to normal mask? In your opinion is it for COVID-19 protection?
  • Answers

    8 Answers found.
  • During this Covid 19 Pandemic, it is very everyone's necessity and recommended to wear a face mask to protect oneself from the novel coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), World Health Organization(WHO), the government of every country, and public health officials recommend wearing good face masks to control the spread of the virus. There are many types of facemask/face coverings available in the market like bandanas/handkerchiefs, hand-sewn masks, and disposable medical masks but all these do not provide us safety for which purpose it is used. Much just use what is easily available to them looking at its cost, design, brand, style, etc but one should understand that not all the type of facemasks provide effective protection from peoples saliva/droplet spread from through coughs, sneezes, and conversation. Let me just give more detail about the N95 mask, The mask is called N95 for its filtering facepiece respirators capacity(air filtration) and is regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH). The N95 mask is effective in removing 95% of the pollutants and allergens from the air. Now if you want more details then:
    N: The first letter is used for Respirator Rating Letter Class. In this case, the letter 'N' stands for "Non-Oil". It means that this mask can be used if no oil-based particulates are present in the work environment. The other lerrets used are 'P' for "Oil-Proof" and 'R' for "resistant to oil for 8 hours".
    95: The numeric value gives the efficiency of the mask in filtering. Here 95 tells that the mask gives 95% efficiency by filtering particles from the air breathed in.
    .3 microns/PM3: It gives the filtration capacity of the mask. In this case, the mask won't allow any particulates or large droplets to pass through the size of the mask. The mask will filter contaminants like dust, mists, and fumes, and anything above the minimum size of .3 microns.
    Material: The material used for the filtration is what it depicts. Most of the N95 mask uses an electrostatic non-woven polypropylene fiber.
    Type: There are many types available in the market like washable, reusable, non-washable, etc.
    Valve: Using a constant mask or for long hours causes breathing problems for many. An exhalation valve helps to reduce the exhalation resistance and provides breathing easier for the user. This is optional and one can choose accordingly.

    I hope, this will give you more clarity as to why the N95 mask is in demand and better as compared to other/normal masks.

    “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." — Morrie Schwartz

  • During first wave of COVID 19, it has been announced that N-95 masks are the best in providing protection from all type of air borne particles which other masks such as surgical, K95 and cloth masks can't provide, that's why due to more demand and less supply of these masks in initial stages led to huge prices, and other factors like black marketing are behind this. But a question always arises why these are considered better?
    There are some of the factors explained in favour of these masks which other can't provide, which are:
    1) According to World Health Organisation respirator masks are
    "designed to protect healthcare workers who provide care to COVID-19 patients in settings and areas where aerosol generating procedures are undertaken".

    2)N95 masks filters atleast about 95 percent of the air borne particles, which other masks available can't provide as per the experts researches and testings. For instance k95 make provide 70 percent filtration and cloth masks filtration level can not be determined as it depends upon the quality of material from which they are made.

    3) In N95 masks the outer covering is tighter as compared to other masks which prevent leakage from sides, as surgical masks are generally loose fitting masks.

    But surgical masks and respirators are mostly advisable for health workers and people who are above 60, cloth masks provides least protection but they are mostly preferred because they are quite comfortable.

  • A face mask is a protective cover that covers the face (or partly covers) and protects mouth and nose,or nose and eyes.. Face masks of different types are used in various fields like industries, dealing with hazardous chemicals, chemical spraying in agriculture ,dusty area, in health sector etc. While people working is such areas are aware of the types of masks used in such sectors, the term mask became very popular and daily used one after the infectious spread of Covid 19. It is actually related to health sector and mandatory use of proper masks is needed as a means of prevention of spread of Covid.

    Covid infection and droplets:
    Even from the initial understanding it was known that Covid infection is manly by droplet infection. That is, it spreads by the presence of the virus in the droplets of spit and sneeze or nasal mucus from the already infected person. It was also understood that the virus affects the respiratory system entering through nose and mouth. So the fist stage of reduction of spread and so prevention of spread, was use of mask to cover nose and mouth to prevent the droplets entering mouth and nose.
    When the infected person uses a mask, the mask prevents a good percentage of droplets coming out from his mouth from sneezing, coughing , talking and breathing. When a nearby person also wears a mask,that prevents a good percentage of the residual droplets reaching his nose and mouth. Thus the precaution is almost full, when everyone wears mask.( though it cannot be said hundred percent fool proof or perfect safe. There are many other factors too)

    Surgical mask:
    Surgical mask is used by doctors, nurses, etc who are involved in surgery. In surgery there will be risk of blood and other body liquids splashing on the medical staff performing or standing nearby. There is also a risk of droplets from the mouth and nose of medical staff falling on the patient. So the medical staff in a surgery room wear such special masks that will prevent liquid drops from entering the nose and mouth of medical staff or liquid droplets escaping from their nose and mouth. Such masks are called Surgical Masks. As per the risks there are different level of surgical masks too.

    Generally a Level 3 mask is used in major surgical procedures where there is more risk of splashes and aerosols. A certified level 3 surgical mask is tested to be capable of filtering particles of size 0.1 to 0.6 microns.
    Surgical masks are disposed after one time use.

    N95 masks:
    However when there is a higher risk of aerosols (or extremely small solid particles, bacteria, virus, fungus etc suspended in air) which can cause high risk of transmittable diseases, then a further efficient filtration capable masks are used.
    An N95 mask is a mask capable of filtering 95% of airborne particles is used in such situations. It can filter particles of 0.1 microns. N95 masks are costlier than the common surgical masks.

    Covid 19 and use of surgical or N95 masks:
    The Covid virus is about 0.125 microns. However as the droplets are much larger particles. Hence they can practically blocked by best surgical masks and more efficiently by N95 masks, (which also have a water proof layer too)
    As everyone cannot afford daily wide use disposable surgical mask in the pandemic situation, a very limited reuse of N95 masks are also permitted subject to hygienic cleaning and sanitising. The more practical way is to use a reusable cloth mask over a surgical mask. This has to be done along with proper sanitisation social distancing.

  • N95 Masks
    N95 masks may be considered respirators. They are able to filter 95% of particles in the environment using static electricity. N95 masks are to be approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
    N95s are tight-fitting with minimal leakage. Even though it is a little inconvenient they are more reliable. Minimum leakage, custom fit and static electricity are the qualities that are making these masks more effective.
    N95s are more useful for health care workers. When we go near the COVID patient only N95 masks may be required. They are in short supply. If the general public uses them. The health workers may not be able to get them when they require.
    Surgical Masks
    Surgical masks are the most commonly used masks. They are fluid-resistant and can protect against large droplets or splashed bodily fluids. No fit testing is required.
    Surgical masks do not protect against aerosols. They will not give sufficient protection when in direct contact with COVID patients.
    The mask must not be reused and should be discarded. When we go to hospitals and other health centres we may have to use this.
    Cloth Masks
    These masks are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the general public in public places. It will slow down the spread of COVID-19. They may not be useful for protection against aerosols. If we follow all the protocols of COVID like staying home, reducing unnecessary travel and maintaining six feet of physical distance, the protection of a cloth mask is sufficient. Even people who got vaccinated should use the mask when they go out. Some people are using a double mask during the 2nd wave. One surgical mask and one cloth mask has become the norm for them.

    If we follow the following protocols without any deviation wearing cloth masks when we go out may be sufficient.
    1, Stay home and go out only when it is absolutely necessary only.
    2. Be washing hands as frequently as possible.
    3. When you go out don't forget to maintain the social distance.
    4. Never remove your mask while you talk or somebody else is talking to you
    5. Avoid travelling as much as possible

    always confident

  • It is understood that mask is compulsory requirement for protection from corona virus. Everybody should wear mask for save their life. There are different type of mask available in market which can be easily washed. But, N95 is considered special in case of protection of covid19. It filters at least 95% of airborne particles compare to other mask. It can filter particles of 0.1 microns. N95 masks are costlier than the common surgical masks.
    In this masks the outer covering is tighter as compared to other masks which prevent leakage from sides which is considered special quality of this mask. The N95 type is the most common particulate-filtering facepiece respirator. It works like mechanical filter as the droplets are much larger particles. Hence they can practically blocked by best surgical masks and more efficiently by N95 masks, (which also have a water proof layer too).
    It can not be afford by everyone in this pandemic situation.

  • A N95 mask contains multilayers providing adequate protection to face, nose and mouth. This will help the user by using 95 percent of dust particles. This has been formulated in such a manner so as to get the clean air on using this mask.
    The following are the parameters which N95 mask takes care of -
    1) Dirts
    2) Contamination
    3) Bacteria
    4) Virus
    5) Pollens etc.
    However, this brand would fail in the following parameters such as synthetic gases,chemical gases, gasoline etc.
    The special features of N95 masks are as follows-
    1) It is cost effective since the same set can be used multiple times after regular washing at our home providing you long service.
    2) These masks can be used regularly for protection against vehicular emissions or dusts.
    Cautions -
    1) This should not be used by the people suffering from heart disease for a prolonged time.
    2) Don't allow it to be used by the children below 2 years of age.
    Recently a guideline has been circulated instructing the people to use home made masks or coverings of clothes tied over nose and mouth for better protection. In case of symptoms of COVID-19, one should wear a medical mask.

  • Main purpose of the mask is to protect a person from entry of pathogens in general and Covid-19 virus in particular in the mouth from where it moves to lungs rapidly and harms much. There are many masks available in the market and one can make a simple mask using a cloth piece in the house itself but when it comes to complete protection then there are certain factors which are to be considered as the characteristics of a good mask.

    First point is it should be able to block the small particles to enter from outside and pass through the mask layer. Whatever material we use to make a mask it is possible that very small pollutant particles or pathogens or this specific corona virus may pass through it if we have not taken a tested and perfect material to make it. A good material for mask will be one which blocks the small particles even having a very small size of the order of 2-3 micron. Incidentally the size of Covid-19 virus is almost at that level only and actually it is smaller than that and is estimated at 1 micron only. But virus alone will not be able to pass through the mask membrane just like that but it moves riding on a carrier which would be generally a liquid like water droplet. So a mask with capacity to block 2-3 micron sized particles is good enough to block the corona virus.

    Second point in the matter is the mask should fit on the mouth and nostrils in a fit position leaving minimal space around so that no fluid particle leaks across those openings. The mask which we make in house and even the surgical mask the health care workers wear in the hospitals do not provide such a fit as the mask N95 provides.

    Third point is multiple use of a mask. The cloth mask can be reused subject to washing it every time and drying it properly. Surgical masks are used only for one time and are generally discarded after one single use.

    N95 is an approved mask by the concerned authorities and claims to filter 95% across it which is quite good a percentage and has a design made to fit the mouth and nose area quite nicely giving a good seal around. In the areas where high density of the virus is expected, like in covid wards in hospitals, it is advisable to use N95 mask. Some doctors even advise to use two N95 masks in risk areas and alternate them every day so that the used one is kept for 24 hours to get rid of the virus load if it has captured any.

    There is one mask called as N99 also which claims 99% filtering and is slightly better than the N95. Anyway N95 is very popular among health workers around the globe. As N95 masks have undergone the rigorous inspection and certification set forth by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US, people have naturally more confidence on them.

    Knowledge is power.

  • What I feel that N95 masks are prepared and sold as per the International specializations and even doctors advising us toe wear the same as the cloth is thick and there cannot be any chance of virus penetrating into our nose and thereby considered to be safe and sure. But we have been coming across fake N 95 masks with openings as ventilator on the right cheek side and that seems to be non acceptable. Once the PM said in a national wise telecast that even the shamla what the villagers wear on daily basis can be the best protective against the virus and thus we need not be particular about the N95 mask.

    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

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