Haze: Facemasks and N95 Respirators for self protection

During current haze episode, many public is buying facemask to protect themselves when they are conducting activities outside of their house. However, may public do not aware about the method to choose the proper facemask, as well as using them effectively. There are many types of facemask available in the market, and you might find some label with N95 which sell at higher price. If you are planning to conduct any activities outdoor during heavy haze event, it is advisable to use the N95 mask rather than normal facemask. Following are the comparison between facemask and N95 mask.

What is the difference between Facemasks and N95 Respirators?

Facemasks

A facemask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Facemasks may be labeled as surgical, laser, isolation, dental or medical procedure masks. Facemasks are made in different thicknesses and with different ability to protect you from contact with liquids. These properties may also affect how easily you can breathe through the facemask and how well the facemask protects you.

If worn properly, a facemask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria) from reaching your mouth and nose. Facemasks may also help reduce exposure of your saliva and respiratory secretions to others.

While a facemask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, a facemask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes or certain medical procedures. Facemasks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the facemask and your face.

Facemasks are not intended to be used more than once. If your mask is damaged or soiled, or if breathing through the mask becomes difficult, you should remove the facemask, discard it safely, and replace it with a new one. To safely discard your mask, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. Wash your hands after handling the used mask.

N95 Respirators for Use by the Public

An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. In addition to blocking splashes, sprays and large droplets, the respirator is also designed to prevent the wearer from breathing in very small particles that may be in the air.

To work as expected, an N95 respirator requires a proper fit to your face. Generally, to check for proper fit, you should put on your respirator and adjust the straps so that the respirator fits tight but comfortably to your face. For information on proper fit, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death.

N95 respirators are not designed for children or people with facial hair. Because a proper fit cannot be achieved on children and people with facial hair, the N95 respirator may not provide full protection.

People with chronic respiratory, cardiac, or other medical conditions that make it harder to breathe should check with their healthcare provider before using an N95 respirator because the N95 respirator can require more effort to breathe. Some models have exhalation valves that can make breathing out easier and help reduce heat build-up.

 

How to put on a face mask

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
  2. Remove a mask from the box and make sure there are no obvious tears or holes in either side of the mask.
  3. Determine which side of the mask is the top. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose.
  4. Determine which side of the mask is the front. The colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face.
  5. Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using.
    1. Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear.
    2. Face Mask with Ties: Bring the mask to your nose level and place the ties over the crown of your head and secure with a bow.
    3. Face Mask with Bands: Hold the mask in your hand with the nosepiece or top of the mask at fingertips, allowing the headbands to hang freely below hands. Bring the mask to your nose level and pull the top strap over your head so that it rests over the crown of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so that it rests at the nape of your neck.
  6. Mold or pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose.
  7. If using a face mask with ties: Then take the bottom ties, one in each hand, and secure with a bow at the nape of your neck.
  8. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
Step 1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching the mask. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

 

Take out a face mask from the box and inspect it for rips or holes. If you notice the mask is ripped or torn, throw it out and select another one.
Verify which sides are the top and front of the mask. Different manufacturers can have different types of masks. The part of the mask with a stiff bendable edge or metal strip is the top. The colored side of the mask usually faces outward, while the white side is against your face.

 

Medical masks have several different types of fasteners. The way of putting on each type is slightly different. The instructions for the most common types are listed below: If you have a mask with ear loops, then hold it by the ear loops and place the loops over your ears. You might have to wind them around your ears several times. If the mask has ties, you will need to bring the mask to nose level. Put the top set of strands over the top of your head and secure with a bow. The lower strings will be tied later. If your mask has one or more elastic bands, you should hold it by the top so the bands hang below. Position the mask over your nose and place the band over the top of your head. The second band (if there) should be positioned at the nape of your neck.
Pinch the metal strip, or stiff edge, of the mask so it molds to the shape of your nose. If you are using a mask with ties, secure the bottom ties at the nape of your neck.

 

Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and chin.

How to remove a face mask

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
  2. Avoid touching the front of the mask. The front of the mask is contaminated. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band.
  3. Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using.
  4. Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask.
  5. Face Mask with Ties: Untie the bottom bow first then untie the top bow and pull the mask away from you as the ties are loosened.
  6. Face Mask with Bands: Lift the bottom strap over your head first then pull the top strap over your head.
  7. Throw the mask in the trash.
  8. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

 

Reference:

http://www.sfcdcp.org/facemask.html

FDA

http://www.wikihow.com/Put-on-a-Medical-Mask