I’ve read several articles comparing the N95 face mask to other sealed face masks. If given the choice I would much rather wear a fully sealed full face respirator, that isn’t always practical. I read a study by CIDRAP-Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at University of Minnesota. The study support the use of N95 respirator face masks as a means of increasing your personal protection against the Swine flu viruses. The Swine Flu virus size is approximately 80 - 120 nanometres in diameter. In comparison the Ebola virus is approximately 80nm in diameter. The study went on to say that properly fitted N95 respirators stopped 99.8% of the Swine flu virus transmissions during this test -reference.
Using a full face - sealed respirator such as the FM50, or other sealed respirators will provide much more enhanced protection than what the N95 can provide.
The N95 name comes from the NIOSH certification process which requires a mask meeting N95 approval to be able to filter out 95% of airborne particulates. Within the N95 family there are several other variants. One N95 respirator is referred to as a “Surgical N95 Respirator”. A “Surgical N95 Respirator” has an enhanced fluid and flammability resistance requirement. The fluid resistance is not against oil based fluids, rather the mask is resistant to exposure of bodily fluids while still remaining a viable filtration medium. N95 masks are designed to be single use.
N95 masks are not intended to be reused over multiple engagements. One of the risks when reusing any type of protective equipment is the chance of cross contamination. The filtration process that takes place within the N95 mask uses gravity, impaction, and diffusion methods to entrap the particles in the filter media. The filter media itself is now a point of contamination. Proper handling should be used when removing the face mask to ensure the user is not exposed to the particles trapped within the mask media.
A used mask is now a fomite or an object that is capable of carrying infectious organisms and spreading them to others. Dispose of used face masks with caution and do not allow anyone to come in contact with the used face mask as they are at a high risk from contamination.
Ensure that N95 respirators are replaced with a new respirator when unit has become visibly dirty, resistance in air flow is detected, the mask become wet, the mask is exposed to oil based particles, the mask has been used 8 or more hours in a high particulate area.
How to perform a user seal check on an N95 respirator mask