All you need to know about using the N95 Mask right!

All you need to know about using the N95 Mask right!

In this fight against coronavirus, a few tools are indispensable. Sanitizers, Soaps, Gloves and Masks are a must in the PPE bag. Of all, it’s the N95 masks that selling out fast! So, here is everything you need to know about using the N95 right.

What Exactly Is N95?

N95 is a hi-tech personal protective equipment. The respirator can block 95 percent of very small—0.3 micron—test particles. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, and viruses are in the range of 0.3 microns.

N95 filters better and offers more protection than basic surgical masks or cloth masks. This does not mean that surgical masks or cloth masks are redundant. They are good for the common people who are less likely to get exposed to the virus.

N95 vs FFP3 & FFP2

Respirator Standard & Filter Capacity

FFP1 & P1        At least 80%
FFP2 & P2        At least 94%
N95        At least 95%
N99 & FFP3        At least 99%
P3       At least 99.95%
N100        At least 99.97%


Are N95/N100 actually better than FFP2/P3? :

Not necessarily!

Please note that these standards only specify the minimum % of particles that the respirator filters.

For example, if a mask is FFP2 rated, it will filter at least 94% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter or larger. But in practice, it will filter somewhere between 94% and 99%. The precise figure will often be quoted by the manufacturer in the product description.


Valve vs Non-Valved Respirators

Valved respirators make it easier to exhale air than the non-valved ones. The means less moisture build-up inside the respirator that makes the wearer is more comfortable. But one important caveat is that valved respirators may not be optimal in stopping the wearer from spreading infection.

If the wearer is ill, the valve will mean that their out-breath/coughs / sneezes will make their way through the mask & into the air, without filtering. This is due to the valve opening when exhaling.


Who Needs N95 Masks?

N95 masks are not recommended for the general public!

Firstly, because they might not know how to use it.

Secondly, because everyone buying the N95 will lead to scarcity for those who really need it.

And more than anyone, it’s the health care workers who need these N95 masks. Doctors are saving lives putting themselves out there at a very high exposure and risk. So, they must use these N95 masks for better protection.

Apart from the doctors, the frontline workers who are exposed to high risk should use the N95 mask. But to get the benefits they must use it in the right way!


How big is the Coronavirus? Can N95 filter it?

N95 is a respirator with high efficiency at 0.3-micron particle size.

Respirators are measured by their efficiency at filtering particles of 0.3 microns or bigger. The reason for the focus on 0.3 microns is because it is the “most penetrating particle size” (MPPS).


But the size of the coronavirus is much smaller than that.

Particles smaller than 0.3 microns exhibit brownian motion. It makes them easier to filter. Brownian motion refers to a phenomenon in which the particle’s mass is so small that it no longer travels unimpeded through the air.

Instead, it interacts with the molecules in the air, causing it to pinball between them, moving in an erratic pattern. According to researchers this point between “normal” motion and brownian motion is the hardest particle size for filters to capture.

What we can take away from this, is that high filter efficiency at 0.3-micron size will generally translate to high filter efficiency below this size also.


Risks of Using Respirators

Respirators are not something that we put on regularly.

So, there are a few risks that you must be aware of!

  1. Not wearing respirators correctly – It can leave gaps for the virus to enter.
  2. Respirators do not fit properly – A respirator can’t fully protect you if it doesn’t fit your face.
  3. Touching the front of the respirator which catches viruses.
  4. Don’t take unnecessary exposure risks because you’re wearing a respirator.
  5. Respirators are not vaccines. So, don’t risk yourself with false confidence.


Respirator Re-Use – How to sanitize them safely?

Yes, you can re-use your respirator. So, there is no need for stocking!

Research revealed that after 11 days of heavy use in Beijing, respirators had only lost 1.4% of filtering capacity.

So, you can re-use your respirators. But you need to sanitize it.


Good ways to sanitize

  1. Time
    This is the best option! Current research suggests that the virus cannot survive for more than 3 days on these materials. So, leaving the respirator for this period or longer will kill the virus.
  2. Oven Heat
    Some research shows that the virus cannot survive the heat. Heating the objects at 70C (148F) in an oven for 30 minutes may be adequate to kill Covid-19.
  3. UV Light
    UV-C light, at adequate dosage, can kill Covid-19 without damaging the respirator.
  4. Steam
    Though research shows steaming can be effective, but there are potential complexities in its setup.


Bad ways to sanitize

  1. Washing
    Whilst washing can kill the virus, but it also reduces the filtering capacity significantly.
  2. Alcohol
    Alcohol too can kill coronavirus, but this too can reduce the capacity significantly.


Also Read: 7 Mental Health Expert Tips To Cope With Covid-19 Pandemic


If you are out there serving people then you must go for the N95. But if you are stepping out for personal reasons than normal mask is enough for you! Just make sure you don’t walk close to people. Maintain social distancing. And stay at home unless its an absolute emergency!


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