The 2019 Novel Coronavirus soon turned out to be an epidemic. And just a few months later, the virus has spread making it a worldwide pandemic. This terrifying outbreak has not only made people ill. But it has taken lives, infected more people, raised countries to declare code alerts, imposed force to contain the virus and has generated public scare and anxiety. It is a serious issue that the world is battling, driving economies at its low point.
Amid a pandemic, supplies need to be conserved. And among these are protective gear such as masks. Face Masks and N95 Masks are both forms of personal medical devices that help to protect the wearer from airborne and liquid particles that they may come to face with. This medical equipment is highly needed, especially by health workers during this challenging time.
N95 Face Masks
The N95 Face Masks also called N95 Respirators, are medical protective equipment that is designed to cover the wearer’s nose and mouth, protecting them from any airborne and liquid particles that may contain bacteria, viruses, and germs. N95 Masks are not recommended to be worn by the general public who feel well amid COVID-19 because the virus transmission is not necessarily airborne. It is transmitted by person-to-person contact. A sick person who has coughed, sneezed or has touch objects around them can spread the contamination. And by being around them, there is a high probability that another gets infected. In this case, the masks for the general public will serve only to restrict one from easily touching their mouth when their hands have been contaminated. It will also just help reduce the possibility to inhale air pollution.
N95 Masks are more recommended for health workers that need to tend to the sick. The N95 Masks are thicker in material compared to surgical masks. It can provide a more secure fit and adequate protection layer to our respiratory system. The “95” in the N95 meant that the mask has undergone careful testing which resulted in its capability to block and filter at least 95% of 0.3-micron particles during testing.
The N95 Mask provides a more secure fit because of its cup-like design and elastic band quality. This protective device already considers facial contour which makes it easier to wear. The nose clip is usually made of aluminum which can be adjustable to the wearer. If you notice, the edges are in a slight wing. This is because it is designed to offer a complete seal from nose to mouth.
The fabric material of the N95 masks is interwoven with a variety of fabrics. The usual composition would have the nose foam made in polyurethane, the filter in polypropylene, while the shell and coverweb are made with polyester.
How Often Should you Replace Your Face Mask
Face masks would have a shelf life or expiration date. These would be the standard indicators that would help determine if it can still be initially used or not. However, when masks have been used for the first time, there is a typical question to ask whether it can still be reused if it still looks intact.
In this case, it is more reliable to perform detailed eye inspection. By looking and scrutinizing the health of the mask, one should already be able to determine if it is safe to use. Factors that can be considered are whether the quality of the material has degraded. If it is soiled or damaged, then it is advisable to replace it with a new one.
Inspecting the masks does not only consider the look of the main component. In most cases, others would probably just look at the cleanliness of the foam that covers the nose and the mouth. However, apart from this, one must also consider the state of elasticity of the band. To check whether it is already worn out – overstretched or still has a good amount of tension. This is important to check because the band helps secure the masks in place when worn. If this is damaged, then the mask’s seal is compromised too.
Depending on the situation, the masks can be worn efficiently to prolong its life. One of the ways could be to assign masks to be used on a cycle. An example is to have masks set aside for one week. Each mask will be used for a certain day of the week such as Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and so on.
By using only that mask for a specific day of the week, the elasticity of the band is preserved. This is because the bands will not loosen immediately. As soon as it is removed, the rubber bands will have time to regain their tension. Over time the masks will wear out, but the tendency is that you can delay the rate of wear and tear. Again, this will have a huge consideration on the state where the mask is used. If it will be used for everyday walking, then it can last. But if it will be used to perform in a heavily dusted or polluted area, then you might want to consider changing it every day.
How to Wear the N95 Mask
Before wearing an N95 mask, one must first assess the situation if it is effective to wear them. Masks that have been certified by the NIOSH means that the product has been tested and certified. Other masks that resemble but do not have that stamp might not be able to offer adequate protection.
The N95 masks are typically bought from local hardware stores or home improvement depots. There is some degree that the N95 masks can protect its wearer. Unfortunately, elements such as chemical vapors, gasses, gasoline, and other oil-based liquids are among those that the mask cannot protect the wearer from.
When wearing an N95 mask, it must be fitted to securely cover from nose to mouth. The mask must be worn snug to the facial contour. Otherwise, it will not provide optimum protection. A correct fit means that the mask must have contact with the skin all around its edges. It is not advisable for kids because of a small face frame and, for people with beards or facial hair because it will have air leakage.
To make sure that the mask has a good pressure chamber, one can also try it on first without the elastic bands. By putting it sealed to the face, one can inhale sharply. If the air leaks from the edges, you can adjust the nose piece. No air leak should occur. If the N95 mask has an exhalation valve, try covering it too to check on the pressure.
The rubber bands should provide good tension which should be worn over the head. By placing the mask and nosepiece snug, you can take the elastic bands to secure its place. One will reside on the nape while the other will reside on the crown of the head.
Make sure that wearing the masks can provide a level of breathability without compromising its seals. Otherwise, it is not advisable to be used by the wearer. Breathing through the N95 mask should remain comfortable to breathe. If in case the mask feels clogged or unbreathable, then it should be properly disposed of and replaced with a new one.