Two Major Types of Face Masks Allowed in USA
A lot of debate over the use of face masks has been witnessed over the past few months in the US. With surging cases of COVID-19 people started buying the masks frantically. This shortage caused CDC to issue statement with reference to the use of face masks.
It advocated people to use face masks only when they are ill. Healthy people do not need to wear masks. But recently it recommended everyone to cover their face with cloth mask when they are out of home. General public is advised to cover face with non-medical masks. On the other hand, medical masks are to be reserved for health care workers. The two major types of face masks allowed in the USA are as follows.
Surgical Face Masks: -
Surgical masks are loose fitting masks that protect wearer from airborne particles. They protect the wearer from infectious cough, sneeze or mucous. Doctors and other medical staff are recommended to cover their face with surgical masks in order to protect them against COVID-19. Surgical masks are convenient to wear hence they do not require any fit test. There is no need for user check seal when wearing surgical mask. However, filtration quality of surgical masks is not much effective to protect against COVID-19. It is not much reliable to protect against smaller infectious particles and is not considered to be effective to provide respiratory protection. Surgical masks are disposable. They must be discarded after single use.
Respirator Face Masks: -
Respirator masks are more advanced and better designed masks intended to give a higher and more effective level of respiratory protection. Particulate respirators are commonly used to prevent COVID-19 by health care professionals. The most commonly used respirator mask is the N95 respirator. It is respirator mask manufactured according to US standards. It provides a very tight fitting over the face blocking the particles from entering into the mouth or nose. It protects against smaller and bigger infectious particles, droplets and non-oil based aerosols. The mask requires user to conduct fit test in order to give optimum functionality. N95 mask filters out 95% of the airborne particles to give cleaner air for the user to breathe. The mask should be adjusted correctly with the help of strings and nose piece so as not to allow any leakages from sides. N95 respirators are light weight and easy to handle. Users can wear them for long hours without much difficulty.
Apart from the N series, there are R series respirator masks such as R95, R99 and R100 that are somewhat resistant to oil. On the other hand, there are P series respirators that are strongly resistant to oil.
Before using the mask, make sure it is defect free. Conduct a careful inspection of the mask and do not use if it is not working properly.
Care must be taken when handling respirators. Apart from conducting fit test, make sure you check the seal every time you don the mask. It is highly recommended that the workers are given adequate training with respect to donning on and off the mask. Apart from this, the user must evaluate his own medical conditions and make sure there are not any major complications resulting from wearing the mask. Wearing respirator masks have caused psychological stress, shortness of breath, discomfort and irritation to many individuals. Therefore, caution must be taken with people who have underlying medical conditions.