Mask - Everything about all kinds of mask - Last Update: April 2020
What to look for when buying a surgical mask?
Having one of the following specification listed is consider a surgical mask.
Protection Level: Very High High Medium Low
ASTM Level 1 / ASTM Level 2/3 [US]
EN 14683 [Europe]
CNS 14774 外科手術面(口)罩 一級 / CNS 14774 外科手術面(口)罩 二級/三級 / CNS 14774 一般醫用面(口)罩 [Taiwan]
YY0469-2011 醫用外科口罩 / YY/T0969-2013 一次性醫用口罩 [China]
FFP2 / FFP3 [Europe]
KF94 / KF99 [Korea]
N95 / N99 / N100 [US]
If nothing is listed or it's not one of the above, they might be a mask for dust or blocking the sun.
Respirator vs Surgical Mask, what is the difference?
Please read this as I see a lot of people confuse about the difference between them.
Respirators are designed to help reduce the wearer’s respiratory exposure to airborne contaminants such as particles, gases, or vapours. Respirators and filters must be selected based on the hazards present. They come in various sizes and styles, and should be individually selected to fit the wearer's face and to provide a tight seal. A proper seal between the user's face and the respirator forces inhaled air to be pulled through the respirator's filter material, thereby providing protection.
Examples includes N95 / N99 / N100, KF94 / KF99, and FFP2 / FFP3
Surgical masks, also known as procedural or medical masks, are designed to help prevent contamination of the work environment or a sterile field from large particles generated by the wearer/worker (e.g., to prevent the spread of the wearer’s spit or mucous). Surgical masks may also be used to help reduce the risk of splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, secretions, and excretions from reaching the wearer’s mouth and nose. Surgical masks may also be worn by patients to help limit the spread of infections.
Examples include ASTM Level 1 / 2 / 3, EN 14683, CNS 14774, PFE (>95%), and VFE (>95%)
“While it’s not harmful to wear one, it’s also not a very effective means of prevention," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, explained. "Simple measures such as hand washing, minimizing contact with others, avoiding touching your nose, mouth and eyes as well as practicing proper cough etiquette are more important ways to minimize transmission."
Masks must list these specification for some form of virus/bacterial filtration. If they do not list it, it is probably a basic mask for dust, for pollen, or for blocking the sun.
Which is more important, BFE or PFE?
The PFE test is a quality indicator for healthcare surgical masks. The PFE test is not an indicator of respirator protection performance. The filter media of a surgical mask with a very high (>95%) PFE may be less than 70% efficient when tested with the NIOSH N95 test method. The results of the surgical mask PFE testing and NIOSH filtration efficiency testing should not be compared.
It means that if the surgical mask is of good quality, it may still be less than 70% effective when compared to the gold standard of N95 masks. While we're not jumping for joy, 70% is not too bad when compared to zero percent protection from the haze! SOME protection is better than NO protection right? Do note that N95 masks are only useful when FITTED RIGHT. And we mean 100% right.
Fluid Resistance: reflects the mask’s ability to minimize the amount of fluid that could transfer from the outer layers through to the inner layer as the result of a splash or spray. ASTM specifies testing with synthetic blood at pressures of 80, 120, or 160 mm Hg to qualify for low, medium, or high fluid resistance.
Breathability (Differential Pressure): measures the air flow resistance of the mask and is an objective measure of breathability. The higher the Delta P value, the harder it is for the wearer to breathe. Masks with a Delta P over 5.0 are considered too “hot” for general medical or surgical use, whereas masks with a Delta P under 2.0 are considered “cool”. Greater resistance = better protection but less breathability.
The N99 masks will filter out slightly more (4% to be precise) polluted particles but N95 mask offers 50% lesser breathing resistance than N99. It means you can wear the N95 mask for longer duration without feeling suffocated.
Latest news about the Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV):
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Do NOT buy from any of these drug store/藥房
They are either selling FAKE (假) or SECOND HAND (二手) surgical mask or have quality problems (質量問題) during the 2020 outbreak.
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