With the new norm of people wearing masks for everyday basics, to now being a work essential for the construction industry, make sure you know what type of mask you’re buying for you or your employees.

Surgical Masks: Surgical masks are a barrier to splashes, droplets, and spit. A regular loose-fitting face mask can help you stop spreading sneezes, coughs and fluids to other people. This is how the coronavirus spreads. People wearing face masks should be disposed of them after every use

  • Are cleared by the FDA for use as a surgical mask.
  • Do not have the word NIOSH and the approval type (i.e. N95) printed on the product.
  • Are not designed to protect your lungs from airborne hazards.
  • Are typically donned for a specific procedure and disposed of afterward.
  • Help prevent large particles expelled by the wearer, such as spit or mucous, from entering the environment. If the wearer coughs or sneezes, the surgical mask will help collect the larger particles expelled.
  • Usually do not fit tightly to the face—there might be gaps around the edges.
  • Help reduce the spit and mucous the wearer expels out into the work area. Surgical Respirators:
  • Filter particles from the air when properly fitted, helping reduce the number of particles or germs the wearer breathes in.
  • Are cleared by the FDA for use as a surgical respirator.
  • Have the word NIOSH and the approval type (i.e. N95) printed on the product, when used in the US.
  • Have packaging that typically refers to workplace hazards and OSHA compliance requirements.
  • Are secured tightly to the face, usually with 2 head straps and an adjustable clip over the nose to allow for a more custom fit.

Particulate Respirators: Respirators protect from exposure to airborne particles.

  • Filter particles from the air when properly fitted, helping reduce the number of particles or germs the wearer breathes in.
  • Have the word NIOSH and the approval type (i.e. N95) printed on the product., when used in the US
  • Have packaging that typically refers to workplace hazards and OSHA compliance requirements.
  • Are secured tightly to the face, usually with 2 head straps and an adjustable clip over the nose to allow for a more custom fit.

The difference between N95 and KN95 respirators in short is, N95 masks are the US standards for respirator masks; KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for masks.  These are the requirements that the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health requires manufacturers to meet in order to label their masks as N95s. N95 masks have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while inhaling. That means they’re required to be slightly more breathable than KN95 masks.  N95s also have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while exhaling, which should help with breathability.

Bottom line: N95s and KN95s are both rated to capture 95% of particles, although only KN95 masks are required to pass fit tests. N95 masks have slightly stronger requirements for breathability.

Breathe safe!

References:
https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/whats-the-difference-between-n95-and-kn95-masks/

https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/956213O/differences-between-respirators-and-masks.pdf?fn=Respirator%20vs%20Surgical%20Mask%20flye

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