Covid-19, the virus that has literally been spreading like wildfire. How do you protect yourself, what is the best mask to use, will the mask protect you as well as others? The main question people are asking is, what is the best kind of mask to use?
An N95 filtering facepiece respirator is a particulate-filtering facepiece respirator that it filters at least 95% of airborne particles. These masks can be found at any reputable PPE supplier in South Africa.
In this article we will talk a little bit about this invaluable mask and its role in protecting its user from contracting the Covid-19 virus.
About the N95 Mask
The N95 mask is made from a fine mesh of synthetic polymer fibres, specifically a nonwoven polypropylene fabric, and is produced by melt blowing. This forms the inner filtration layer that filters out hazardous particles.
Who Invented the N95 Mask?
In 1958, a woman named Sara Little Turnbull made a presentation to men who worked at a massive company called 3M. In her presentation she showcased an idea that would become the prototype for the N95 mask.
The 3M scientist who had previously invented the non-woven technologies was intrigued by her ideas. He immediately hired Sara to work on a moulded bra cup. When reporting back to him she mentioned the possibility of disposable liners. Shortly after this she began working on a design for a disposable, moulded non-woven medical/surgical mask. This mask was inspired by the many hours she spent in hospitals caring for her ailing family members.
The N95 versus the KN95 Mask
Though there are many different options to choose from, the latest reports show that fitted, non-valve N95 masks are the best way to achieve the highest level of protection.
But what is the difference between an N95 and a KN95 mask?
The N95 mask in an American standard mask whereas the KN95 mask is the Chinese standard mask. The biggest difference between the N95 or the KN95 mask is that if you wear the N95 mask correctly it can filter out 95 percent of aerosol particles that could potentially be carrying the novel coronavirus.
Both masks are made from several synthetic material layers and are intended to be worn over the mouth and nose.
The main difference is that only the N95 has been approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The N95 masks superior design includes its tight-fitting seal on your face that gives the wearer superior protection. It is important to note though that neither mask is effective unless worn properly
The N95 Mask with Or Without a Respirator
N95 masks come with or without respirators. Unfortunately masks with a valve protects a person from contracting the infection but can put others at risk.
A N95 mask that has a raised plastic gasket stitched in its fibre is used to filter the air when you breathe in. The problem is that when you breathe out the air does not get filtered again and it goes out as is.
Therefore an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus able to infect others when they release the unfiltered exhaled air into their surroundings. This is due to the inability of these valves to filter air that has been exhaled as they only have a one-way valve.
- The N-95 masks are efficient in preventing the spread of viral infection as they filter out air particles as small as 0.3 microns.
- They are certified by the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as they can filter out both large and small air particles.
- Due to the various sizes, sometimes these masks do not fit properly and can leave gaps.
- They can be used only as long as they form a seal and should thereafter be disposed of.
- It can be difficult for people to breathe while wearing these masks.
- The seal can break from facial movements such as yawning, laughing.
How are Masks Tested?
After a surgical mask has been made it needs to be tested to ensure its safety.
There are normally five tests that the mask must be put through:
# 1 Bacteria Filtration Efficiency
Aerosol with staphylococcus aureus bacteria is shot at the mask at 28.3 litres per minute, ensuring that the mask can catch the percentage of bacteria that it is supposed to.
# 2 Particle Filtration Efficiency
This test involves spraying an aerosol of polystyrene microspheres to make sure that the mask can filter the correct size of particles.
# 3 Breathing Resistance
This test is done by shooting a flow of air at it and then measuring the difference in air pressure on both sides of the mask.
# 4 Splash Resistance
Surgical masks are splashed with simulated blood using forces similar to human blood pressure. This is done to ensure that the liquid cannot penetrate and contaminate the wearer.
# 5 The Flame Test
Surgical masks are tested for flammability by being set on fire so as to measure how slowly it catches fire and how long the material takes to burn.
Protective Hygiene are proud suppliers of N95 Masks and various other types of protective Masks, Gloves, Sanitisers, Face Shields, Thermometers and much more! We are always fully stocked and ready to assist you in all your PPE requirements. Our N95 Disposable Masks are sold in packs of ten for your convenience.
Let Protective Hygiene protect you, your workplace and your family in a time where sanitization and personal protective equipment can mean the difference between sickness and health or even life and death.