An Introduction to Face Masks

Posted by Dan Obie, Manager on Jun 23rd 2020

Face masks have become critical for safety in the workplace. Still, the public remains largely uneducated on the various types of protection offered, even as masks become more engrained in the culture of the workplace. Not all masks are created equal and improper mask use can create a false sense of security.

Cloth or fabric masks, which are the worst performing masks on the market, unfortunately seem to be the most popular. The fact remains that a pretty pattern or your favorite team’s sports logo cannot protect against COVID-19. Clinical tests have shown that most cloth masks offer only 40% filtering performance. The loose fitting nature of a cloth mask reduces protection levels even further. Cloth masks should not be worn if one has access to any of the other mask types mentioned below.

3-ply disposable masks are specifically engineered and clinically tested to reach 80%+ filter performance (the FFp1 standard).

KN95 masks have been clinically tested to reach 94%+ filter performance (the FFp2 standard). A noseband forms around the bridge of the nose, and the bottom is cone shaped to form around the chin. The ear loops on the KN95 offer comfort as well as a secure fit. Overall, this is the best choice for non-medical personnel based on filtering performance, fit, and comfort.

Although 3M N95 surgical respirators are not available to the general public, NIOSH N95 respirators can still be purchased. A NIOSH N95 provides the same filtering performance as a certified KN95, but with a more secure fit. The downside to the secure fit is the comfort of the mask.

Children face mask options have been largely limited to cloth masks and 3-ply disposable masks until the recent release of our new FDA approved Children’s face mask. We offer the only medical grade children’s face mask that has ever been approved by the FDA. The mask is certified to filter 98% of particulates and is really the safest choice for children.

All PPE is still designed for single use. It’s important to use common sense and dispose of masks when advisable. Cross contamination between your hands and mask will occur. Hand sanitizer must be applied before and after any mask