How to choose a respirator mask during
Respirator mask is one of the most important and basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the long incubation period of COVID-19 as well as the insufficient testing, not everyone is 100% certain he/she is not affected. Wearing respirator mask can not only protect ourselves from breathing in virus particles, but also filter out potential virus particles reaching out to the environment if the wearer is already affected.
Figure1: Woman in mask
How do we choose respirator mask? There are a variety of respirator masks on the market with different professional names. It can be very confusing to choose which one is the most suitable for you. N95, KN95, FFP2 are the names that may can up to you frequently in the past month. What is the difference between these masks?
In short, all these names are different manufacture standards for respirator mask in different country/region. N95 is the US standard published by US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that require manufacture to meet in order to label their masks N95s. Similarly, other countries have their own standards for respirator masks. KN95 is the Chinese standard, FFP2 is the European standard, etc. Below is a comparison chart for respirator mask standards across the globe, listing some of the key features.
Based on this comparison, it is reasonable to consider China KN95, AS/NZ P2, Korea 1st Class, and Japan DS FFRs as “equivalent” to US NIOSH N95 and European FFP2 respirators, for filtering non-oil-based particles such as those resulting from wildfires, PM 2.5 air pollution, volcanic eruptions, or bioaerosols (e.g. viruses). However, prior to selecting a respirator, users should consult their local respiratory protection regulations and requirements or check with their local public health authorities for selection guidance.
Lots of users care most about the percentage of particles that mask capture. As shown in the chart, all the listed masks have similar performance with about 95% efficiency to capture 0.3 micron particles. Other parameters overall are fairly similar among all the masks. KN95 requires the manufacture to perform mask fit tests on real human while N95 does not have this requirement.
We hope this article can help clear some of your confusion about choosing respirator mask during COVID-19 pandemic. All these masks can provide a solid defense when you must go to some crowded places such as supermarket, post office, etc. Breath safe!
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Figure: retrieved on May 1st, from https://www.rawpixel.com/search?similar=2288512&page=1.