The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us into a new normal, where we in order to stay safe, must use a variety of methods to protect ourselves and those around us from infection, such as wearing masks.
And we do. Blue 3PLY surgical Face Masks and white N/KN95 non-medical Respirators are seen everywhere. Some even use a basic cloth (which has a very limited effect).
All over the world governments have rules and regulations regarding Respirators and Face Masks, and yet there seems to be confusion about which Respirators and Face Masks actually helps keeping one safe from viral infection.
In the news and conversations, the terms “Respirator” and “Face Mask” are often used to describe a mask you use to cover your mouth and nose. You can find an article describing the difference between a Respirator and a Face Mask here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/difference-between-face-mask-respirator-why-workers-kapil-gupta/
Research shows that the 3PLY surgical Face Mask (with 3 layers) does not fit tight enough around the face and therefore does not provide people with a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles such as Coronavirus, and is not considered respiratory protection.
The 3PLY surgical Face Mask is a loose fitting mask intended to be used in an surgical (medical) environment and predominantly to provide protection against liquid contamination of the patient as well as medical personnel.
The N/KN95 non-medical Respirator is a tight fitting mask, created to protect the wearer, and those in the wearers immediate surroundings, from inhaling dangerous particles such as particles containing a virus.
The N/KN95 non-medical Respirator is made from multiple layers of synthetic material typically a polypropylene plastic polymer. These Respirators must filter out, and capture, 95 percent of the tiny particles in the air.
N/KN95 non-medical Respirator offer protection against particles as small as 0.3 microns in size, and while the Coronavirus itself is around 0.1 microns in size, it is usually attached to something larger, such as droplets, that are generated by activities such as breathing, sneezing, coughing and talking.
You can read more about layers here: https://thesafertraveler.com/pages/how-to-stay-safe
It is well worth spending 2 minutes of your time to better understand the difference between the various Face masks and Respirators, especially a 3PLY surgical Face Mask and a N/KN95 non-medical Respirator.
Here is an infographic from the CDC providing a simple overview of the differences and use of these two types of protection: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/pdfs/UnderstandDifferenceInfographic-508.pdf
Finally, please keep in mind that Respirators and Face Masks on their own is not enough to stay safe. Keep the distance, and keep good hygiene when it comes to hand washing and antiseptic wiping. These things together are essential in the fight against the Coronavirus.