What is the difference between medical masks and respirators, like N95s? - One More Push

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What is the difference between medical masks and respirators, like N95s?

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PUBLISHED 01 December 2020
About COVID-19,

Medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are:

  • composed of 3 layers of synthetic nonwoven materials
  • configured to have filtration layers sandwiched in the middle
  • available in different thicknesses
  • have various levels of fluid-resistance and filtration

Respirators (also known as filtering facepiece respirators – FFP) are available at different performance levels such as FFP2, FFP3, N95, N99.

Medical masks and respirator masks are similar in their protection value. However, respirators are specific for certain procedures and instances because they have a tightly fitted component to them. 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. Healthcare workers should be fit tested before using a respirator to ensure that they are wearing the correct size. Wearing a loose-fitting respirator will not offer the same protection to the wearer and may allow small particles to get inside the mask through the sides.

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