Coronavirus & Masks: What are N95s and N99s

Certain masks are designed to protect the wearer against inhalation of airborne particles. These particles may be commonly recognized particles like those from sanding or grinding materials, they may also include airborne biological particles such as mold or even bacteria or viruses. 

N95 masks use the number “95” in its name due to the claim that they have a 95 percent filtration efficiency against certain particles, but not all. N99 masks claim a 99 percent filtration efficiency; but again, are not a guarantee against all airborne particles. Masks like the N95 or N99 cannot eliminate the possibility of contracting an illness or disease. These masks are also sometimes referred to as respirator masks and are part of a group of materials called Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE is designed to help protect the wearer against exposure to many contaminants; even bloodborne pathogens (BBP). In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) many people are rushing to gain access to PPE, especially masks. When choosing a mask to purchase, it is best to check the manufacturer’s website to learn more about the details and specifications of each mask in terms of respiratory protection. 

Again, it is important to realize that although these masks may reduce your chance at contamination, they do not eliminate it. To learn more about PPE and BSI (body substance isolation), check out our  Bloodborne Pathogens Certification, or our  CPR/AED – First Aid – Bloodborne Pathogen Certification Combination. Stay safe, stay healthy!

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