How safe are n95 masks? Details inside
An N95 respirator is a close facial fitting respiratory protective device. It provides an extremely efficient filtration of airborne particles that might enter the breathing tract and cause sickness.
The number 95 in n95 signifies that the masks successfully filter out 95% of the particulate matter present in the air. The masks can block out the particulate matters as small as 0.3 microns. All of its uses aside, people are often confused about how safe these masks are due to various conflicting claims. Here are some points you should keep in mind about the safety provided by n95 masks:
Size of matter it can filter
The n95 respirators can filter almost all the particulate matter present in the air. To be precise, matter as small as 0.3 microns can be filtered by the respirators. The hair on your head is about 60 micrometers wide, so you can understand that the respirators filter out particles invisible to the naked eye.
Things it can protect you from
From the previous point, it becomes clear that n95 respirators protect you from almost all particulate matter down to the size of 0.3 microns. The respirators provide protection against dust, fumes, aerosols and smoke particles. Not only that, but biological particles such as pollen, virus, bacteria and several allergens are also filtered when you use the respirator.
The respirators, however, do not offer any protection from toxic vapours, smells and gases like carbon monoxide which means you’ll still be able to smell smoke despite wearing the masks.
Not wearing it properly can be fatal
Unlike other masks or respirators that are very easy to wear, the n95 respirators entail some complications in how to wear them. You need to know the correct procedure to tie an n95 mask beforehand or in an emergency situation, you will not be able to wear one properly. Thus, if an n95 mask isn’t worn in a proper way, the whole purpose of wearing it will be defied. The filtering capacity will reduce tremendously and you will be inhaling all the harmful particles.
One thing you must keep in mind while purchasing an n95 respirator mask is that it requires a ‘fit test.’ Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when performing the ‘fit test’ to ensure that you will be safe when you wear it in an emergency. However, due to changes in the shape of your face (due to weight loss or weight gain), the size of the mask suitable for you will also change. So, you must check if your mask is fitting you properly after every few months.
Also, facial hair like a beard and moustache will reduce the filtering capacity of the masks a bit as the masks won’t be able to seal properly. You should also remember that the n95 respirators aren’t designed to fit children so you must make other arrangements to make sure that they do not breathe in harmful particles in case of an emergency.
The masks shouldn’t be worn by everybody
Despite all of its uses, it does get a bit difficult to breathe while wearing an n95 respirator. You should avoid wearing the mask in a confined space where oxygen supply is limited. People who suffer from heart conditions or have pre-existing respiratory problems should avoid wearing a respirator as it makes it a bit difficult to breathe normally and does cause shortness of breath even in people with healthy respiratory systems.
Other than these points, also remember that the n95 masks are single-use and are effective only for eight hours. If you use a single mask for more than eight hours, you will be risking your health, and potentially, your life, as the safety provided by the masks will keep deteriorating after that time.
Everything said the n95 masks are extremely useful as they serve their purpose by filtering out almost all of the particulate matter present in the air. Just be careful that the mask is tightly sealed to your face to ensure maximum protection. Whenever you go to purchase an n95 mask, keep the above-mentioned points in mind so that you reap the maximum benefits of the safety offered by these masks.