N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Washable Reusable Face Masks: What's the Difference?

Posted by Matt Silver on

N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Washable Reusable Face Masks: What's the Difference?

Times are changing fast. Only a short year ago, respirators, surgical masks and face masks were worn primarily by health care workers, construction workers, and a few other professionals with jobs that required an extra layer of protection. Washable reusable anti pollution face masks were only worn by few.

A complete 180 degree has taken place with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and skyrocketing air pollution. Now, if you see someone not wearing some sort of face covering, you’re probably doing a double take. 

It is important to know the different types of face masks and the level of protection they each offer now more than ever, since the CDC recommends face coverings for use by the general public in this pandemic. On top of that, more people are using washable reusable anti pollution face masks to help combat increasing health risks associated with poor air quality. 

With face masks becoming an essential part of daily life, the question is:

Can you tell the difference between a respirator, a surgical mask, and a face mask just by looking at it?

They all cover the wearer’s nose and mouth but differ in quite a few aspects. These differences are not always easy to identify and might not be immediately apparent.

Non-medical everyday face masks

Face masks can be disposable or reusable, homemade or purchased. Cloth face masks are washable and reusable and are the most common type of face coverings you see being worn these days. They must be large enough to completely cover the area from the bridge of the nose, the mouth, and to the chin without gaping. 

Regardless of whether an individual has any symptoms of COVID-19, or is feeling sick, face masks should be worn in all public settings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that washable reusable anti pollution face masks are increasingly being used for protection from air pollution every year. 

Disposable surgical masks 

Surgical masks are manufactured with varying degrees of thicknesses that create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose and the wearer’s environment. They are loose fitting and disposable.

When worn correctly, the surgical mask blocks large particle droplets that may contain viruses, bacteria, allergens or irritants from reaching your mouth and nose, and thus, infecting you. They also protect in reverse, helping to reduce the exposure of your respiratory secretion from reaching others.

However, surgical masks are only effective to a certain degree – they do not filter or block the tiny particles transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or talking due to their loose fit.

The lowdown on N95 respirator masks

This type of face mask offers the most protection against airborne particles when compared to a surgical mask or a face mask. They are tested and certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and are able to filter out both large and small particles, guaranteeing to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles.

N95s are tight fitting face masks and provide a high level of protection against viruses, bacteria, and irritants when properly fitted and worn. They are also known as filtering facepiece respirators.

Who Should Wear N95 Respirators?

The CDC has stated the N95 respirators are not for use by the general public. This may seem confusing, since we are being told to protect ourselves with high quality face masks, yet at the same time, we are being urged not to purchase and use N95 face masks. 

This is because they are critical supplies that must continue to be kept for the health care workers – the people who need this type of respirators most.

So the question remains...

How can you get maximum protection without actually using a N95?

Use this Washable Reusable Anti Pollution Mask Instead

The value of the face mask depends on the quality. If you want to best protect yourself, your family, and loved ones, you want to use a face mask that has all the qualities of a N95 respirator.

The Debrief Me® X95 anti pollution mask provides you with the highest level of protection that you can get from a non-medical mask, because this mask uses N95 technology. This allows you to get the protection you deserve while not decreasing the N95 respirators supply for healthcare workers. 

The filtration technology these washable, reusable masks use filters out microscopic particles to give you peace of mind from air pollution and viruses of today’s age. 

Even better news: the Debrief Me® EPIC X95 face mask was just awarded a 99% Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) rating by an independent laboratory, Nelson Labs. 

The X95 face masks are well designed to fit snugly and comfortably around your face, with multi-layers–five!– of different types of cloth for top quality protection. Each mask includes two soft layers of spun-bound cloth, two layers of high-efficiency filter cloth, and a middle layer of activated carbon.

The ability to wash and reuse cloth masks is a key advantage, because this helps to offset the adverse environmental effects of disposable masks. In fact, Debrief Me® helps contribute to our environment’s wellness via its partnership with One Tree Planted, where every mask purchased plants one tree!

Always be sure you are wearing the correct type of anti pollution face mask for maximum protection against the hazards and risks in our world today. For additional information on the differences between various face mask coverings, refer to Debrief Me®’s website.