The Future of N95 Masks
With the appearance of coronavirus disease 19 (also known as COVID-19) in 2019, the public heightened their concern regarding virus transmission via airborne and aerosolized particles. The concern was accompanied by a slew of contradictory discussions on which types of personal protective equipment best safeguard health care practitioners and the world at large against virus exposure. The thought of wearing facial covers at restaurants, grocery stores, and airports seemed weird when state and local governments began enacting mask mandates in the spring of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people did not even own a mask, let alone wear one daily. N95 Masks, currently, are now commonplace and ubiquitous just a year later. So much so that customers who previously did not know masks are now well-versed in the finer details of mask function, fit, and style. Details on the function and practicality of the common types of masks segregate them according to how each mask type protects against airborne and aerosolized disease.
The Past, Present, and Future of N95 Masks
Until 2019, masks existed in the medical rooms only. But the emergence of COVID-19 and the mask mandates instituted in 2020 by both state and local governments changed the story. Everyone is fluent in both the basic and additional aspects of masks. Surgical masks, procedural masks, and filtering respirator facemasks are the most popular mask types used in the medical arena. Other than the types of masks, they know about their effectiveness, CDC recommendations, and different fabrics. Some of the finer details include:
- For optimal effectiveness, masks must cover the mouth and the nose.
- For optimal efficiency and maximum protection, you should wear a mask with a close fit rather than a relaxed fit.
- Synthetic materials with loose weaves are less protective than natural fabrics with tight weaves.
- Understanding the safety of using masks has been achieved where you should discard disposable masks after one use and wash reusable masks in hot water regularly.
- On CDC recommendations, multiple-layer masks are better than single-layer masks, and they can increase their protection by wearing two masks instead of one.
Understanding and accepting masks is not the same as loving them. Although masks have been absorbed into our everyday routines, we all look forward to the day we can toss the masks away. However, the truth is that masks are almost certainly here to stay. Masks can guard against various hazards, including seasonal colds and flu, allergies, and even pollution, which will outlast and outlive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mask Standards, Ratings, and Filtration Effectiveness
N95, KN95, FFP1, P2, or surgical mask: what’s the difference? For each mask type, each country has its certification standard. For surgical masks, Europe utilizes the EN 14683 standard, while China uses the YY 0469 standard. Each country’s norm differs slightly, but they are all roughly comparable. China utilizes the KN standard (e.g., KN95) for respirator masks, while the US uses the N standard (e.g., NIOSH N95 Mask).
Single-use face masks are the standard with the least stringent filtration criteria. Surgical masks have more stringent regulations, while respirators have the most stringent. Respirators (research suggests they score higher on fit effectiveness) also have a tighter fit across the face than surgical masks and single-use face masks. The bottom line on mask standards and effectiveness is as follows:
- Single-use masks (usually one layer, very thin) are only good at capturing bigger dust particles.
- The requirements for catching virus-sized (0.1 microns) particles are greater in surgical mask standards, although there are variations according to the area.
- Virus-sized particles are frequently captured by pollution masks (respirators) such as the N95 mask and the new Makrite N95 Mask over 90% of the time.
NIOSH has approved surgical N95 and Makrite N95 Mask respirators as N95 mask, and the FDA has certified them as surgical masks. Medical respirators, healthcare respirators, and surgical N95s are all terms used to describe these products.
The pandemic has changed our lives and how we interact with others in ways that were unimaginable just two years ago. However, since 2020 the topic of Covid and PPE has been so prevalent in our daily contacts. Life and the economy did not cease because of shutdowns and quarantines, restarts, and stops. Certain industries, such as the PPE industry, experienced an economic boom not experienced in many years. Some of the trends that came with the economic boom include:
- Before the pandemic, the US market for N95 mask was worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and traditional consumers of masks for non-medical uses have multiplied rapidly. They are having trouble obtaining things that they had no problems obtaining before the outbreak.
- The Makrite model 9500-N95 is the latest in NIOSH N95 Masks technology, offering both protection and comfort with a Surgical Rating for healthcare workers.
- Due to a shortage of inventories and the opportunity to purchase PPE before COVID, employers have been “stocking up on inventory” for longer than the CDC recommends, as they are terrified of being caught off guard with no supplies again.
Why Is It Important to Work Through an Authorized N95 Mask Distributor?
Unless you already have a commercial relationship with a specific seller, NIOSH suggests that you do a thorough investigation of the company before purchasing masks. This suggestion applies to companies whose devices have been assessed as NIOSH N95 Mask by NIOSH or are part of an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Before making a significant transaction with a third-party intermediate company, have your institution’s finance or accounting department check the third-party company’s financial stability to ensure that they can deliver the products as requested. As hospitals and customers look for comfortable and effective fluid-resistant masks, SPH Medical provides options. Of the Makrite NIOSH certified N95 Masks, we supply models 9500-N95, the 9500-N95S, and Sekura-N95. Our most popular model is the 9500-N95 Surgical Respirator. These are essential items for frontline caregivers and first responders everywhere. SPH Medical is a trusted source and a global distributor for Makrite Industries and Makrite 9500-N95. Makrite is working to improve the fit and comfort of their N95 respirators to continually improve their products. Contact SPH Medical to learn more about the future of N95 masks and Makrite’s industry leading products.