While there has been some face mask guidance confusion on the news as well as social media over the past few months. They are still one of the most essential items for workers. All individuals want to have with them everywhere today. If you work in close proximity to anyone, you need a mask. Even if you work from home, then you need a good stash of face masks for going to most indoor and outdoor settings near other people, and even when delivery people come to your door.
Not mandated by law or specific businesses and buildings. It can be wise to have a mask and a backup mask with you. After being vaccinated. There are still many variants of COVID out there, and even vaccinated individuals have been testing positive for the virus again.
If you have been vaccinated. Do not even believe in the COVID-19 virus. It is just plain smart to be sure you have a reserve of N95 masks at hand. They may prove necessary for commercial travel for quite some time. They may protect those you love, even if you believe that you are immune.
Plus, we know it is highly likely that some other event will happen in the future that will again cause mandated mask-wearing. That could be a new coronavirus variant in a year from now, a completely new biological threat, or even a localized wildfire, terror attack, or something else.
When this inevitably happens, you can bet that N95 masks will be in short supply. Early news may downplay the event to ensure those with privileged information can stock up on masks first, and healthcare workers and frontline responders can stockpile sufficient mask supplies for months or years.
Don’t have to deal with price gouging or the worst restrictions either.
While the government always wants to ensure health care workers get the first shot at the best masks, they also recommend the same N95 dust mask for all when available. They offer the best quality protection and wearability.
CDC guidance for face masks still recommends these NIOSH-approved N95 masks when supplies are available.
These masks fit right for real protection against bioaerosol viruses. Made to filter out tiny airborne particles and offer comfortable breathability.
For those wanting even more supreme protection, there are also National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certified N99 masks, which block out 99% of micro-fine particulates, and still give you full breaths of clean air.
N95, KN95, and FFP2 are types of mask classes. The codes refer to the safety performance standards tested.
These standards and tests may have some similarities. The main difference is that different countries and continents have their own mask performance tests.
Here is a quick guide:
United States: N95
Korea: Korea 1st class
Certification standards for the US N95 mask and qualifying filter performance are at the most stringent level.
The gold standard for medical and construction environments.
An N95 level mask filters out 95% of non-oil airborne particles. Typically they will have two headbands straps instead of ear loops. This makes them more effective at not only directly filtering out particles through the mask but preventing leakage around the mask.
How you use a respirator mask is just as important as getting a quality mask.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, proper mask handling and wearing practices include the following.
- Pick a mask with a nose wire to keep it in place
- Be sure your mask fits snugly
- Children under two years old should not wear masks
- Consider wearing a secondary layer of protection, a cloth mask on top of your N95 mask or N99 mask, but NEVER for a KN95 mask
- Wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer before touching your mask
- Put on and remove your mask by the bands, do not touch the filtering part of the mask
- Replace masks if they get dirty or wet
Are KN95 and N95 Mask Reusable?
N95 and KN95 masks are not reusable. Like in any sanitary healthcare setting. Disposable masks are changed out regularly.
Now that government agencies and medical facilities have secured or ordered their supplies, and have contracts for the PPE they need, N95 masks are available to other businesses, workers, and all individuals.
Do not fall for price gouging or fake masks. According to the CDC, “60% of KN95 masks in the United States are counterfeit.” Many popular brand names are counterfeit.
Instead of trying to navigate and evaluate masks on Amazon or third-party sites, it is wisest to be sure that you are always purchasing your N95 masks directly from the manufacturer. Authentic has an approval number in this format, 84A-7719. CDC has a list of certified n95 masks.
Be sure to keep your receipts as the IRS has now made PPE purchases including masks qualified medical expenses for tax deductions.
N95 masks have been certified to meet United States standards for healthcare and workplace safety, as well as emergencies like viral pandemics, wildfires, and volcanoes. This is the global gold standard, often exceeding similar international standards for masks in other countries.