11 FAQs About N95 Masks: All You Need to Know

Women putting mask on face and adjusting straps on head

Have you ever wondered what masks are the most effective? Do you know the difference between a KN95 and an N95? Here, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about N95 and similar face masks, so you have everything you need to make an informed decision about your personal protection.

1. What is a KN95 Mask?

A KN95 mask is similar to an N95 mask in that it filters out 95% of airborne particles and contains the following similar features:

  • Non-woven fabric
  • Nano membrane filter
  • Skin-friendly layer
  • Electrostatic cotton filter

However, a KN95 mask is not certified by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health) and is rated as being slightly less breathable.

2. What Is the Difference Between Surgical Masks and N95?

Both surgical masks and N95 masks are designed to protect your airways from harmful particles as well as protect those around you from the transmission of contaminants. The differences between each, however, lie in how these two masks fit and filter particles.

A surgical mask is a quick and comfortable option that offers some protection in a pinch but will leave gaps near your airways no matter how tight the straps are. On the other hand, N95 masks are a regulated type of PPE that is designed to fit your face perfectly without any gaps.

3. What is the Difference Between an N95 Mask and an N95 Respirator?

An N95 mask is technically a subtype of the NIOSH-certified N95 respirators. Both types of respiratory protectors filter out at least 95% of airborne particles with the N95 mask being disposable and more lightweight.

4. What is a NIOSH Certified N95 and in What Situation Would You Wear an N95 Respirator?

A NIOSH-approved N95 mask is a disposable face mask that meets the requirements set out by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to filter out a minimum of 95% of airborne particles. This respirator is designed primarily for those working in healthcare or hazardous environments.

5. How Many Times Can You Wear an N95 Mask Before Throwing It Away?

Ideally, an N95 mask should be discarded after each encounter with a patient or after a certain number of hours. However, due to scarcity of resources, limited reuse plans have been put in place to avoid wasting materials.

For example, a recommendation for nurses is to wear one mask for their shift and then place it in a breathable container for five days before donning it again. This serves to decontaminate the mask since most common pathogens won’t survive five days without a host.

To ensure this strategy is effective, workers must avoid touching the surface of the mask and only apply and remove it with the head straps. If a mask becomes deformed or contaminated with any bodily fluids, it must be discarded immediately.

6. Is Makrite N95 NIOSH-Approved?

N95 masks are the gold standard for respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Makrite Sekura N95 model is one such respirator, approved by NIOSH to filter out 95% of airborne particulate matter.

7. Do N95 Masks Come in Different Sizes?

Since N95 masks must pass a fit test to be used properly, they come in a variety of sizes to fit different face shapes and sizes.

Are There Different Sizes of 3M N95 Masks?

3M N95 masks come in three sizes: small, medium and large. To learn more about 3M’s sizing, check out this article.

How Do I Determine My 3M N95 Mask Size?

First, you’ll need a ruler and a notepad to jot down some measurements.

How to find your face mask size:

  1. Measure the straight-line distance from the bridge of your nose to the indent between your chin and bottom lip.
  2. Write down the measurement.
  3. Match the number to the following sizing chart:
    • S: 2.91 — 3.39 in (7.39 — 8.61 cm)
    • M: 3.39 in — 3.9 in (8.61 — 9.90 cm)
    • L: 3.9 — 4.7 in (9.90 — 11.94 cm)

Is There a Small KN95?

If you’re using an alternative to an N95 mask, such as a KN95 respirator, then you’ll find there is also a variety of sizes available for these masks, including small and kids’ sizes.

Elementry students wearing masks
8. What Are the Top 3M Mask Types?

Some of 3M’s top N95 Mask models include the 1870, 1870+, 1860, 9205+ and the 8210. Below, we discuss the differences and advantages of each.

1. What is the Difference Between the 3M 9205+ and 1870+?

The 3M Aura Particulate Respirator 9205+ face mask and the 3M Aura 1870+ Surgical N95 mask are both NIOSH-approved respirators that can filter out 95% of particles. The 1870+ however has a higher fluid resistance and is healthcare-cleared.

What is the Difference Between the 3M 1870 and 1870+?

The 3M Aura 1870+ Surgical N95 mask is an updated version of the 1870 model and is backed by more up-to-date testing.

What is the Difference Between the 3M 1860 and 8210?

The 8210 is a standard N95 respirator while the 1860 model is a surgical N95, meaning it’s been healthcare approved.

9. How to Choose the Best COVID Mask for Your School-Age Kid?

The best COVID mask for kids is one that fits properly, is effective at filtering out pathogens and is comfortable to wear. Experts agree that no matter how good a mask is, a child won’t wear it properly if it’s uncomfortable. We’ve found that the best back-to-school masks for kids include the following:

  • Surgical face masks for kids
  • Kids CA N95 respirator
  • ASTM level-2 disposable masks
  • Kids KN95 respirator

10. How to Choose the Best Type of Face Mask Based on Your Needs?

The best face mask for your needs will depend on several factors such as your occupation, comfort level and the hazardousness of your environment. Below, we list some of the common types of face masks available as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

1. Fabric Masks

Fabric masks are usually the easiest to obtain and can even be made at home. Although they are not NIOSH-approved, fabric masks offer some protection against COVID and other pathogens.

2. Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are designed for medical professionals and block most droplets from being transmitted from the wearer as well as offering some protection against airborne contaminants.

3. KN95 Masks

Based on Chinese standards, KN95 masks are similar to N95 masks but are not NIOSH-approved. For those that want more protection than a cloth mask but don’t require a specific mask for their job, a KN95 mask is a reliable choice.

4. N95 Masks

These are the NIOSH-approved gold standard for filtering face coverings. N95 masks filter up to 95% of airborne particles and are a must-have in many occupational settings, including healthcare.

11. How Many Times Can You Wear an N95 Mask?

The number of times you can wear an N95 mask depends on a few factors such as safety, duration and reusability. Many masks are single-use, however, some respirators can be reused with the right steps taken to decontaminate them. As long as a mask hasn’t been contaminated with bodily fluids and does not show any noticeable signs of wear and tear, you can reuse the mask for a few days before it begins to lose its effectiveness.

Get Professional Guidance on PPE

If you have any questions about choosing the right mask for you, then contact the CanGard team today. Our experts can help you find the best PPE for your needs.

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