In this time of increasing air pollution, quickly-spreading diseases and infections, and seasonal flu, face masks are becoming more and more popular. But the general knowledge about face mask types is still somewhat foggy.
Some people have the false belief that the regular, disposable masks will protect them from bacteria and viruses, hence why they wear them. The truth is, these masks are not very effective for protecting oneself against infections and air pollution.
The problem of smog is an ever-growing concern in the developed world and leads to many consequent diseases, such as lung problems, cancer, and general health issues.
Face masks can play an important role in protection. Most commonly, we will find the N-Series masks, which will protect us from solid and liquid aerosol particles, and do not contain oils. These types of masks will be perhaps the most suitable for personal use, and many providers offer some good masks with elegant designs for general use.
There are also the R-series face masks that will protect us from oil particles, and the P-series, which like the R-masks, will protect us from all particles (liquid, solid, and oil particles), but will last much longer.
N95 Air Masks
N95 face masks are perhaps the most commonly bought masks by the general public. There are many great providers of these types of face masks.
These masks will protect us from about 95% of all airborne particles (hence the 95 number), and the N stands for the fact that they don’t protect us from oil particles. A 95% efficiency is pretty high, and these masks will protect us from dust particles from wood, metal particles, and it will also prevent the spreading of diseases and bacteria.
There are many good providers of N95 masks, and some even feature options for customization. The most important thing is that the mask fits you properly and as closely as possible, which is why you might need to test one before you buy it. A good N95 will come with valves that will allow better circulation of air.
N99 Air Masks
Compared to N95 air masks, the N99 masks will block 99% of all the harmful particles from the air, providing much more effective protection. Like the N95 masks, they won’t protect us from oils, but they will be very effective at blocking harmful particles from entering our respiratory system.
The disposable masks will generally last you for about 30-40 hours at a time, so you will need to replace them after that time. That is when these masks will become largely ineffective as the filter will wear out, and the only option is to replace it. Luckily, there are plenty of providers that will send out these masks in packages of 5,10, or even more.
Again, the mask must fit your face as closely as possible to prevent particles from coming in and out. Healthcare professionals wear N95 and N99 masks, but these are disposable masks. You can buy permanent masks, but be prepared to spend more.
N100 Air Masks
Lastly, we have N100 air masks, the type of mask that is very rarely seen, and also not so readily available as the other two types of masks. Despite what the name suggests, the mask will not block 100% of all the particles; the number will be closer to 99,97%, which a very high number. The particles will be of a size of 0.3 microns or larger.
The N before the name suggests that these masks are not oil resistant, but it will instead protect us against just about every other type of particle. Most of the N100 masks on the market will be disposable masks, although there will be some providers that will ship out more durable masks.
If you want an N100 respirator, be prepared to spend more. Even though these masks can be costly, they will provide you the highest possible level of protection. A good respirator will also have valves to make the air circulation easier.
Again, the mask must fit your face as closely as possible.
Can Air Masks Protect You Against Virus?
It depends on the type of mask you will wear. The regular surgical masks will not protect you against a virus. You will have to get at least an N95 face mask, and if the mask is disposable, it will protect you only for certain periods.
To get more permanent protection, it might be wise investing in a respirator. N95, N99, and N100 respirators will be the most effective for protecting you against a virus. These masks are especially relevant today with the Coronavirus and all the seasonal viruses out there.
What is a CV Marked Mask?
If you are looking for a more durable mask or a respirator, then it is better to look for CV marked masks. But what exactly does CV stand for?
The C stands for the activated carbon filter that the air mask has. This filter will battle foul smells and provide you with cleaner air that you will inhale. The V stands for the valves that a mask has built-in, which makes exhalation much easier for us, and it means that there will be no fogging, and there will be minimal moisture left in the mask.
N-rated vs P-rated Face Mask – What is the Difference?
The main difference between an N-mask and a P-mask is the scope of protection they provide.
N-masks will protect us from most solid and liquid aerosol particles, but it is not oil resistant. On the other hand, P-masks will protect us from solid and liquid aerosol particles, as well as from oil particles. So the P-masks are more effective.
Also, the latter will last for longer if they are disposable masks.
At this time, it is important to know the types of masks we wear. We want to buy the best masks so that they protect us from all the viruses in the air so that we don’t catch a virus. Hopefully, you know more about face masks after reading this article.