What is an N95 Mask? The Right Mask, For The Right Situation
What Mask Do I Need, And When?
The key difference between masks is what they're supposed to do and what your needs are. If you have no respiratory problems and live in an area with low levels of pollution, for example, the focus is on protecting others. A simple cloth mask blocks and captures respiratory droplets when you speak, sneeze, and breathe, and can be washed and reused. They're not generally effective at blocking pollutants or airborne germs from others, so these masks only work for public health when everyone wears them.
Disposable masks, like these masks from SureWay Health, that meet or exceed NIOSH certifications are designed to protect the wearer from airborne particles, whether they're germs, fine soot, or other floating matter. The mask itself is a filter fitted over your face, catching particulate matter, and helping you breathe only air. N95 masks aren't generally designed to be washed and reused, as they use electrostatic forces to capture and hold particles tightly, so it's necessary to have enough on hand for everyone on your team or business.
What Do N95 and KN95 Mean?
An N95 mask filters out 95%, or more, of airborne particles under NIOSH's air filtration rating. KN95 is a similar Chinese standard. N95 masks are generally preferred for medical personnel, first responders, construction personnel, and others who have a need for strong, disposable protection.
For the general public, they're most important in situations where there are heavy amounts of particulate matter or other harmful particles. Wildfires, for example, dump literal tons of carbon in the form of soot and particles into the atmosphere, and these particles have both short-term and long-term health impacts that need to be mitigated as much as possible.
What Should I Look For In A Mask?
While everyone's different in personal preference, any mask, reusable or disposable, should be as simple and safe as possible. SureWay Health sources masks with features like:
- Fabric that is soft and comfortable on the face so it can be worn for long periods of time while being close and secure.
- Straps should be comfortable and hold the mask tightly to the face. For the best seal, "headband"-style straps are preferred.
- Allergen-free materials should be used for straps and body, and ideally, materials are kept to a minimum, with no glues or dyes used for N95 materials. This also limits odors.
- If possible, a moldable nosepiece should be included in the mask or as a separate piece to create a tighter seal. This also prevents the notorious fogging when you wear glasses.
- The mask should have a low breathing resistance, making it easy to breathe while blocking harmful particles.
SureWay Health is a family-owned business based in Michigan that has been focusing on sourcing the best possible N95 masks for anyone who needs to breathe safely. They're currently offering up to 52% off on their DTC3X N95 masks, which are approved by NIOSH and the CDC. All SureWay masks ship same-day for the fastest possible turnaround time. They also donate a mask for every order they receive, donating over 200,000 so far. It’s the perfect way to not only safeguard your family or team but also help protect others as well.