What is the difference between cloth face masks and N95 respirators?
In the COVID-19 pandemic, you may see people wearing a variety of face masks to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus. This includes simple cloth face masks, surgical masks, and more intense face-coverings such as N95 masks and face shields. It is natural to wonder what the difference is between these, so we have decided to compare N95 respirator masks with simple cloth face masks. In this article, you will be able to see the differences between these types of masks, including the protection they offer, so that you can make an informed decision on what to buy and wear.
The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face masks when they are out in public to stop or slow down the spread of the coronavirus. This recommendation is for everyone – not just people who have symptoms or a positive test. The CDC also recommends that people wear a cloth face mask inside their house when another member of the household has COVID-19 or has been exposed to a positive case. In comparison, N95 masks are for those seeking the extra level of protection that the cloth masks don't offer. N95 masks are rated to filter greater than 95% of non-oil based particles. N95 masks are also highly recommended for those who are working in health-care, for example, nurses and doctors.
N95 masks are disposable and they are a “respirator” which means that they have a filter as a part of the face piece. The filter can remove at least 95% of airborne particles, such as virus and bacteria particles, from the air that the wearer breathes. Cloth masks do not have a filter. They protect the wearer from mostly larger particles, like droplets, and also prevent the wearer from spreading their own droplets when they talk or cough.
Another difference is the purpose of wearing these different types of masks. The purpose of wearing cloth masks is to stop or slow down the spread of the virus in the community. The COVID-19 virus is transmitted between people mostly through the droplets that they produce when talking, coughing, and sneezing. Wearing a cloth mask helps to contain these droplets. The purpose of wearing an N95 respirator is to prevent the wearer from contracting the coronavirus when they are likely to be exposed to it in their workplace. N95 masks filter out 95% or more of airborne particles such as these droplets, so they provide a high level of protection.
Due to the high level of protection that N95 masks provide, they are considered to be PPE, which stands for personal protective equipment. Although cloth masks do slow the spread of COVID-19, they are not considered to be PPE. Because N95 masks are PPE, they need to be brought from genuine manufacturers who follow the correct guidelines. Protectly.co stocks a range of N95 masks from authentic suppliers such as 3PE, 3M, Moldex, SAS, Gerson, Respokare and more. On the other hand, cloth masks are easy to buy from most stores, and they are also easy to make yourself at home.