When it comes to masks and respirators, there are a lot of misconceptions in people’s minds. They are often confused about the properties of the masks and when and how they should be using them. There are a lot of things that you might not be knowing about the N95 masks as well.
Here are a few facts about the N95 respirators that are very important for you to know:
Let’s begin with the most basic thing you should know about the n95 masks – what exactly is it?
An N95 respirator mask is an air-purifying respirator (APR) which is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The n95 masks basically act as filters to prevent you from breathing in smoke filled air. In fact, the 95 in the name stands for the masks’ efficiency. Meaning that it has just a 5% leakage factor. You should note that the masks, in no way, filter toxic gas or the smell of smoke.
What can the n95 masks protect you from?
N95 respirator masks are created to protect people from inhaling air filled with harmful particulate matter like dust, smoke and fumes. The masks also filter out particles of various viruses, bacteria and several allergens. It is important to know that n95 masks are very effective in filtering minute particles, ones which are naked to the invisible eye, even those less than the size of 0.5 millimeters.
What the n95 masks cannot protect you from?
It is a common misconception that N95 masks protect the one wearing it by filtering out all types of harmful vapours. In reality, N95 masks will not protect you from toxic vapours like carbon monoxide or methane. The masks will also not help prevent you from the smell of smoke.
People are confused regarding the difference between n95 masks and surgical masks. Here is how they differ:
N95 respirators are designed to filter out 95% of all particulate matter present in the air. Whereas surgical masks and dust masks are designed to provide protection against larger biological particles. While the n95 mask prevents particles from the environment from being inhaled by the wearer, surgical masks are quite the opposite as they prevent biological particles from being dispelled into the air by the wearer.
N95 masks might make it a bit difficult to breathe
Certain incidents have ascertained the fact that it might become difficult to breathe normally if one uses n95 respirators. The wearer may suffer from increased breathing rates and heart rates. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor if you have a pre-existing respiratory or heart condition, before you wear the masks.
The correct way to put on an n95 respirator
It’s important to ensure that the masks are worn properly otherwise there will be a leakage and wearing them would be practically useless. While putting it on, hold the respirator in the palm of your hand and have the straps facing the floor. Place the mask on your face. Make sure that it covers your nose and your mouth. Then, you should pull the lower strap over your head to below your ears. Next, pull the upper strap and have it resting on the crown of your head. Check to see if the mask is properly sealed to your skin.
Despite their effectiveness, the N95 masks are not suitable for everyone due to the following limitations:
- The masks are not designed for children and therefore they won’t fit a child.
- Facial hair prevents the mask to be properly fitted, which increases the percentage of leakage in the masks.
- N95 masks are effective only when they are worn properly. You will have to practice putting them on beforehand if you ever need it in an emergency or it will become difficult for you to wear it when you need it.
- N95 respirators can be effective only for about eight hours after which you will have to dispose of them.
N95 respirators have a shelf life of 5 years in the best storage conditions.
It is important that you keep all these things in mind when you use or recommend the use of n95 respirators.