Why Are N95 Masks so Effective at Protecting Against Pathogens?

Written By Alla Levin
April 08, 2021

Why Are N95 Masks so Effective at Protecting Against Pathogens?

The coronavirus pandemic has made masks that were once restricted to certain professions increasingly common. This includes jobs that didn’t require the use of protective masks before the emergence of Covid-19.

Despite masks becoming an absolute necessity in our lives, many people are still going through a learning curve. They have to do with the masks available in the market, without knowing which types are most appropriate for use. Not all masks are the same, and one type that has made a difference is the N95 mask. Reach out to a professional retailer to buy online N95 mask.

What Is an N95?

N95 masks are a type of form-fitting disposable respirator and are classified as filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs). N95s are designed to satisfy particular physical and performance criteria as regulated by three government agencies. They include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As highlighted above, N95s are meant for single use only. The aforementioned regulatory agencies do not formally recommend reuse or decontamination of N95 masks. However, they do acknowledge that if face coverings are scarce, decontamination for reuse can be considered.

How Do N95 Masks Function

One of the prevalent misconceptions about face masks is that they protect the wearer from contracting a disease when their primary function is to prevent you from spreading it. N95s, however, is a bit different.

The chief function of N95 masks is to filter the air inhaled by the wearer. This means the wearer has a reduced risk of contracting a disease. Surgical and fabric masks, by comparison, are mostly designed to protect the wearer from spreading germs and don’t have a seal that’s as tight across the face as N95 masks.

The filtration media used in the design of the N95 mask is an electrostatic non-woven polypropylene fiber material. It ensures that the masks trap at least 95% of particles sized 0.3µm (microns) in diameter. The mask also filters out potential contaminants such as dust, pathogens, droplets, and fumes.

It’s worth pointing out that N95 is the U.S performance standard (NIOSH-42CFR84) for FFRs. The letter ‘N’ stands for non-oil, and it illustrates the rating letter class of the respirator. They are safe for use in environments without oil-based particles. The 95 represents the N95% filtration efficiency.

China has its own performance standard known as the KN95 and shares identical performance standards as the N95. However, the N95 has stricter requirements for pressure drop, which renders the N95 a bit more breathable than the KN95s. Maintaining safety as lockdown restrictions ease up is still important.

Places You Can Buy the N95 Mask

The pandemic and other co-occurring emergencies have caused an excessive demand for N95 masks because of their high efficiency in filtering and blocking airborne particles, both big and small. While they were initially reserved for frontline healthcare workers, several physical and online stores have stocked N95 masks. Some of the stores you can expect to buy the N95 mask include Amazon, Home Depot, Well before, N95 Medical Supplies, and Office Depot.

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