Covid19 and the Delta Variant: What N95 mask to buy?Diana Bielawska
What N95 Mask to Buy
What N95 mask to buy is an urgent question millions of people are asking. Especially as experts hammer home the message that they are now the leading and only truly reliable protection from the fast-spreading coronavirus. And with the Delta variant being more infectious and more transmissible even in vaccinated individuals, it’s becoming more and more important to use a reliable mask that can protect you and your loved ones from the virus.
N95 face masks actually have many uses, covid19 disease control and prevention is just one of them.
But first of all, what are N95 masks? How are they different than other masks available for purchase? Which masks are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and specifically for COVID What do you look for when purchasing an n95 mask? And more importantly, where can you get them while supplies last?
Urgent COVID Personal Protective Equipment
The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been taking the world by storm, perhaps even more so in the United States.
It has become so bad in recent weeks that Texas has admitted having to fly patients out of state to find available emergency care.
One town in Texas recently shut down after half of the population tested positive for COVID.
Oregon’s governor has just issued a new statewide mask mandate for everyone, even outdoors, and regardless of vaccination status.
More and more experts have come out in the news to state that vaccines are no substitute for wearing masks. In some studies, almost three-quarters of those testing positive for COVID have been vaccinated.
Even if vaccines have helped provide some people some level of defense, Pfizer’s CEO just hit the headlines admitting a new vaccine-resistant strain is likely to emerge.
Even in communities that have been extremely anti-vaccine, anti-mask, and that do not believe the virus is anything more than fake news and a political trick, COVID is now being taken more seriously.
Virtually everyone over the age of two years old is being told they need to mask up. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) is being recommended in some settings, like medical centers.
This may put a new strain on mask supplies, particularly with new clarity on the limited types of face coverings that can actually offer virus protection.
What Is An N95 Mask?
The N95 Respirator Mask is a respiratory protective device that filters out 95% of airborne particles, including large and small particles. It is designed to achieve a very close facial fit and the edges are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth. Surgical N95 Respirators are commonly used in healthcare settings and are a subset of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs), often referred to as N95s.
There are two main types of N95 respirators. One has a visible valve on the outside, and the other has a built-in valve, covered by cloth material. You can see this difference between Bielcor’s B226 N95 Respirator and the highly reviewed B201 N95 Mask.
What to Look for in N95 Masks?
The FDA regulates both cloth surgical face masks and N95 respirators.
All legitimate N95 masks work. At least if worn and handled correctly.
They are rigorously tested to detailed standards, with tight approval criteria.
The biggest issue is being sure you are buying officially approved N95 masks that are effective in protecting you from viruses and diseases.
The most important indicator to look for when buying N95 respirators is the NIOSH certification. NIOSH is the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. It is a division of the CDC that is responsible for the testing, approval, and certification of N95 masks as a legitimate particulate respirator. Getting approved by the NIOSH is an extensive and rigorous process. This ensures that the N95 masks meet the quality and performance standards of N95 masks.
The CDC offers a list of specifically approved manufacturers. This includes the model number, approval number, whether it has a valve or not, and the manufacturer’s donning instructions.
Real N95 masks each feature their NIOSH approval number.
Of course, the CDC warns that there are many fakes and counterfeits that are often sold on platforms like Amazon.
To avoid this and to ensure you are getting real protection, it is best to buy your N95 masks directly from an approved supplier, and their own website.
Aside from NIOSH approval, check the fit and feel of the mask. Go for a mask that is not loose and not too tight and that fits your face shape and size perfectly. Check and make sure that you are still able to breathe through the mask and if you wear eyeglasses, that the design can mitigate the fogging of your eyeglasses.
N95 Respirator Precautions
For people that have respiratory, cardiac, and other medical conditions that affect breathing, it is best to check with a healthcare provider before using an n95 respirator because it can make it more difficult to breathe.
There are some models that have exhalation valves, like Bielcor B226 N95 Mask, that can help make breathing easier and reduce the heat build-up under the mask. This type of mask should not be used when sterile conditions are needed, such as in a medical setting.
N95 respirators are single-use, disposable masks. Discard masks after using them and place them in a plastic bag before putting them into the trash. Always wash your hands after handling used masks
What N95 Mask To Use For COVID
N95 respirators actually have many uses. They have had a variety of applications for a long time.
Some of the most common uses include the following.
N95 respirators have a wide range of applications in industrial, commercial, and professional settings. One of the most obvious is dust masks. N95’s are tested to filter out 95% of non-oil-based airborne particles down to 3 microns.
N95 respirators can provide vital protection against airborne mold particles and toxic mold. One of the most frequent applications for this is in residential and business property settings. Whether undergoing professional remediation, or potentially infected properties are being reentered by tenants and property owners or other professionals.
This is incredibly important after water damage, storms, or properties have been vacant for a while.
The same applies to re-entering areas with smoke and fire damage. Whether this is after a wildfire, or a house or business property fire.
The coronavirus has thrust the importance and value of N95 respirator masks to the front and center of our attention.
The N95 is even more effective than those cloth masks you often see medical professionals wearing. Those surgical masks are mostly designed to prevent healthcare providers from breathing germs into open wounds or infecting patients. They do not protect the wearer.
This makes the N95 the ideal protection for COVID-19 protection, and all of its emerging variants.
With the exception of full hazmat or chemical warfare gear, the only thing better at filtering out viruses than the N95, is the N99. The N99 blocks 99% of airborne particles. Though the N95 is often enough and it may be more breathable for everyday use.
N95 Vs N99 Masks
The N95 mask is certified to remove at least 95% of non-oil-based particles from the air you breathe. In comparison, the n99 mask removes 99% of harmful particles from the air. While the N99 provides more protection, the N95 offers more breathability and airflow and is a couple of dollars cheaper than the N99 mask.
N95 Vs Kn95 Masks
The main difference between N95 face masks and the kn95 mask is the country regulating the approval, testing, and quality standards of the face masks. The N95 mask is the standard for protection for COVID-19 and healthcare workers in the United States. At the same time, the KN95 face masks are the standard for China. They are similar, yet with small differences in airflow and particle filtration testing requirements.
What N95 Mask Does The CDC Recommend?
Sadly, it took medical experts 18 months and hundreds of thousands of deaths, and even more infections and economic issues to finally admit that N95 masks offer the only real protection against COVID.
Many have mistakenly used cloth masks, fashion masks, bandanas, and neck gaiters as substitutes for real protection during this time. Likely, with some very tragic and eternal consequences.
Again, the CDC does not recommend specific N95 masks but does promote its list of approved manufacturers and products on its website. This includes Bielcor’s lineup of n95 masks.
What N95 Face Mask Should I Get?
The most important thing is that you get N95 protection now. For you, your loved ones, and those in your workplace. With the new mask guidance and mandates, and surging COVID cases, it is essential to order your N95 masks while they are available.