Best N95 Masks

What is the difference between the n95 masks?

The first thing to know is that there are two types of n95 masks: disposable and reusable. A disposable mask must be changed every few days. A reusable mask lasts longer than a disposable one but it cannot be reused. The reason why most people buy a new mask each time they need to go outside is because it costs money to replace them with different ones.

How do I choose the right n95 mask?

There are several factors that will determine which type of mask you should get. These include price, comfort, fit, ventilation, and protection against viruses like influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). To make your decision easier we have listed some pros and cons of each type of mask.

N95 Respiratory Protection – Durable, Affordable, and Effective

The most popular type of n95 mask is the N95 respirator. They are made from a special material called polyurethane (PU) that is resistant to chemical warfare agents such as mustard gas. There are many different models available and all of them come in various sizes. Some of these masks can protect against both common cold viruses and influenza viruses.

Others can only protect against dust-born allergens and chemicals. The main benefit of N95 respirators is their low cost, around $1 to $3 per mask.

N95 masks are available in different sizes (like small, medium, and large), and some models even come in extra-small or extra-large. They usually fit anyone with an adult head size of 21 inches or more. To find the right size for you, try one on before you buy it. Since they are very cheap, you can buy more than one and keep them in your emergency preps.

Disposable N95 Masks for People with Allergies and Asthma

Another type of N95 face mask is sold as a single-use product. It can be used for around 10 hours before it needs to be disposed of. For people with breathing problems such as asthma or allergies, this is a good option. You can use it for a few hours at a time, and after 10 hours, simply throw it away and grab another one.

N95 Masks With Filters and Attachments

These are Vented N95 Masks. They come with filters and attachments that are intended to protect the user from airborne diseases. There are many models available, but they are more expensive than other types listed here. A lot of money can be saved by buying a cheaper disposable model instead of a more expensive one that comes with a filter.

Should I buy a N95 Mask or a P100 Mask?

If you are worried about airborne viruses such as SARS or bird flu, you should get a N95 respirator. These masks cover a broad range of particle sizes and can filter out very small particles. N95 masks are also effective against most fine dusts, fumes, and mists that are not chemically poisonous.

P100 masks are less common but they are more protective than N95 masks. These can protect you from biological or chemical attacks with large airborne particles such as anthrax. They can also block very small airborne particles such as asbestos fibers. Like N95 respirators, P100 masks come in disposable and reusable models.

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N95 Masks vs. Surgical Masks

Surgical masks prevent the spreading of colds and flu, but they do very little to protect you from airborne viruses such as SARS or the Ebola virus. They are not designed for this purpose and should not be considered a substitute for N95 respirators or P100 masks.

Where can I buy a N95 Mask?

Many large hardware stores such as Home Depot sell them. You can also find them at most medical, safety, and industrial supply stores online or in your local area. You can even buy them on Amazon or eBay. If you want to buy masks for your entire family or group of friends, try to buy in bulk because you can save money that way.

You can also try your local pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreens, or Rite-Aid to see if they carry them.

How to Use a N95 Mask

Wearing a respirator mask correctly is the most important factor for ensuring your safety. Follow the steps below to put it on correctly.

1. Carefully unpack the mask package and take out the mask.

2. Hold the mask up to your face and make sure the cap on the bottom fits snugly over your chin.

If you have a beard, the cap should still fit snugly over your chin.

3. While holding the mask against your face, place the elastic straps over each ear.

Firmly fasten the lower strap first, then the upper one. The upper strap should form a V-shape under your ears when properly secured.

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4. Tighten the straps by sliding the adjuster pads up the straps until they feel snug.

Make sure you can open your mouth wide enough to eat and talk, but the mask should not be shifting when you move your head.

5. Place the mask over your mouth and nose, making sure the filter is directly over your nose.

6. Secure the bottom strap under your chin.

At this point, you should be able to breath easily through your nose and mouth. If you find breathing difficult, check the mask for air leaks by squeezing the edges of the mask together. If you are able to breath more easily, the mask is leaking and you will need to try a different size.

How to Clean and Store a N95 Mask

1. When you have worn the mask, it should be cleaned before storage.

Wipe or rinse it with water. Be careful not to damage the filter.

2. Let it air dry before placing it back into the package or storage pouch, or storing it someplace clean and dry.

Never store a damp or wet mask.

3. It is not necessary to use disinfectants or other cleaning products, but you can do so if you want.

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However, make sure the chemicals will not damage the mask or its filter.

4. Most masks can be safely stored for several years when properly stored.

How to Tell if a N95 Mask Fits

There are two factors you need to consider when trying to determine whether or not a N95 mask fits you:

1. When wearing the mask, you should be able to talk in a normal tone of voice, breathe easily, and have minimal difficulty with swallowing and hearing.

If you find that you can’t talk or hear properly while wearing the mask, try adjusting its straps.

2. The mask should completely cover your nose and mouth, with the edges of the mask lining up with the sides of your face.

It does not need to be adjusted over your ears. You should be able to breathe through your ears, but if you can’t then the mask does not fit.

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How to Tell if a N95 Mask is Protecting You

When testing the efficacy of a respirator, you want to make sure that the respirator is working before exposing yourself to the hazard. This ensures that during the test, you are not being exposed to the hazard at all.

Follow the steps below to see if a respirator is working.

1. Put the mask on and secure it as described above.

2. Shake the can of the test agent well and hold it about a foot away from your face.

3. Spray the test agent directly onto the filters inside the mask.

It should be sprayed in short bursts, about three or four seconds at a time, with about a one second pause in between bursts.

4. If the test agent is a solid (like talc), tap some of it onto your forearm or the palm of your hand.

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The agent should not be settling or clumping. If, after a few taps, there are large clumps or chunks, then the mask is not working effectively.

5. If the test agent is a liquid, wet your finger and flick a drop or two onto your shirt.

The liquid should not be running or flowing at all. If it is still running or dripping after a few seconds, the mask is not working effectively.

6. After performing steps two through five, and the agent has stopped settling or clumping or running, you can now expose yourself to the hazard.

How to Perform Periodic Maintenance on a N95 Mask

Most N95 masks do not require any maintenance at all. However, if you use an N95 mask for a long time, you may want to occasionally replace the filters. Each mask package should tell you how long the filters last before they need to be replaced. The packaging may also tell you how often the other parts of the mask need to be replaced.

Follow these instructions carefully; failing to maintain your mask can put you at risk.

For N95 Particulate Filters

1. Buy a new package of replacement filters for your mask.

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If your old filter is torn, dirty, or clogged, do not use it as a filter. Throw it away and use the new one.

2. Take out both of the filters and inspect them to make sure they do not have any large rips or tears in them.

If they are torn, do not use them. Throw them away and use the new package you bought.

3. If the filters do not appear to be damaged, take both of them out of their packaging and put them into your mask.

The filters go in the two slots on either side of the mask.

4. Check the filters every six months to make sure that they are still good and that there are no large rips or tears in them.

Replace them if needed.

How to Use a Gas Mask

If you are using a gas mask for the first time, try it on without any chemical filters in it first. Make sure that the straps are tight but not squeezing your head. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. The mask should stay firmly in place when you’re breathing normally.

If the mask is loose, incorrectly fitted, or keeps falling off, do not use it. Throw it away and get a replacement. If you do not have a replacement, try testing the air without the mask.

Now that you know your mask fits, it is time to put some chemical filters into it. Follow steps one and two in the “How to Check if a Gas Mask Filter is Still Good” section to see if the chemical filters are still good. If they are, follow steps three through five in that section to check how well the gas mask works. If the filters pass, you can use your mask.

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1. Put the mask on your head.

2. Pull the ear pieces down over your ears.

3. Tug both sides of the mask to make sure that it fits tightly around your face.

Make any adjustments to the straps that you need to in order to get a good fit.

4. Check for any gaps or holes around the mask by breathing in gently.

If your breathe doesn’t fog up any part of the mask, then it fits properly.

5. If you are using a gas mask with a voice amplifier, put it on now.

6. Put the filter into the front of your mask.

7. Get in a safe location and wait for instructions on what to do during an emergency.

How to Put on a Half Mask

1. Pull the elastic band down over your head so that the mask hangs around your neck.

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2. Place the bottom of the mask against your face.

3. Breath in gently through your mouth and nose.

4. Adjust the nose clamp so that it fits snuggly against your nostrils.

5. Slowly pull the elastic band up to secure the mask to your face.

Sources & references used in this article:

Comparing mask fit and usability of traditional and nanofibre N95 filtering facepiece respirators before and after nursing procedures by LKP Suen, YP Guo, SSK Ho, CH Au-Yeung… – Journal of Hospital …, 2020 – Elsevier

The best protection by JH Lange – Cmaj, 2003 – Can Med Assoc

Best practice recommendations: ENT consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic by E Lescanne, N van der Mee-Marquet… – European Annals of …, 2020 – Elsevier

Decontamination of N95 masks against coronavirus: a scoping review by R Onofre, R Borges, G Demarco, L Dotto… – medRxiv, 2020 – medrxiv.org

Protecting healthcare staff from severe acute respiratory syndrome: filtration capacity of multiple surgical masks by JL Derrick, CD Gomersall – Journal of Hospital Infection, 2005 – Elsevier

Transocular entry of seasonal influenza–attenuated virus aerosols and the efficacy of N95 respirators, surgical masks, and eye protection in humans by WE Bischoff, T Reid, GB Russell… – Journal of Infectious …, 2011 – academic.oup.com