An N95 mask tightly fits around the face and removes 95% of very small particles-0.3 micron-from the air you breathe in, which is the size of the coronavirus. Hence, there is a great demand for these masks and so the US government has put restrictions on the N95 mask bulk purchase to address its shortage.
But can it help protect from coronavirus? Let’s find out.
Advantages of N95 masks
Provides unparalleled protection
N95 masks were rigorously tested in pandemic preparedness studies and it was found that these masks provide sufficient protection against many substances including diseases such as the H1N1 Avian flu and SARS.
It ranks as ‘high barrier’ class 160 mmHg in conformance with ASTM F1862 for fluid penetration. As a result, this is termed as the best mask against the coronavirus.
Packaged for convenience and hygiene
Each mask is individually packed for hygiene purposes and is ideally sized to fit into the pocket. The plastic sleeve has a tearaway portion for easy opening and dispensing.
N95 masks are not made of latex, Pvc or silicon which some people are allergic to.
Why N95 masks are different from normal face masks?
Normal face masks are loose-fitting and offer only barrier protection against droplets that spread the coronavirus when an infected person exhales, coughs or sneezes or when you touch an infected object and then touch your nose or mouth. They may stop the large respiratory particles but do not effectively filter small particles from the air and also do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the wearer inhales.
N95 masks reduce your exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets. When properly fitted and worn, minimal leakage occurs around the edges of the mask when you inhale the air.
Should everybody wear N95 masks?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US does not recommend N95 masks for the general public. This is because N95 masks are considered as critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for doctors, health care workers, and other medical first responders.
What are N95 masks made of?
N95 masks have two outer layers of fabric that form the shape of the mask and a thin filter in between. It is this inner layer that complicates the mask’s construction.
The filter is made up of thousands of nonwoven fibers, each thinner than a strand of hair and fused together by a process called melt-blown extrusion. The melt-blown material is made on 90-inch wide conveyor belts coated in layers of fine white plastic fibers. Each thread is simultaneously fed through one of the thousands of precision-formed holes. A blast of hot air on the other side fuses fibers together so tightly that while air can pass through the microscopic perforations between them, 95% of microbes can’t get through.
The melt-blown layer is the most important part of the mask and the hardest to produce as it requires complex machinery and specialized training. The scarcity of this material has led to high demand for N95 masks and the reason why you shouldn’t go for N95 mask bulk purchase. 3M and Honeywell are two of the top N95 mask producers in the US and both companies have scaled up production to make more N95 masks. The Pentagon has also announced that it will award $133 million in contracts for the production of N95 masks.
Some precautions while wearing an N95 mask
Unlike other masks that are easy to wear, N95 masks entail some complications in how to wear them. If it’s not worn properly, the whole purpose of wearing it may be defeated as it will reduce the filtering capacity.
People with chronic respiratory, cardiac or other medical conditions need to be careful while using this mask as it will make it more difficult for them to breadth. The N95 shouldn’t be used in a place where there is less oxygen supply.
Also, N95 masks are single-use and effective only for eight hours. The safety provided by the masks will keep deteriorating after that time. And you shouldn’t try to clean and reuse an N95 mask by yourself.
So do you’ve any questions about N95 masks? Leave your comments below.
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