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N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks (Face Masks)

When deciding what type of mask to wear, there are many options you may not be aware of. The CDC and FDA both have recommendations, so we hope you find this information helpful.


N95 respirators and surgical masks (face masks) are examples of personal protective equipment that are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also regulate N95 respirators.

It is important to recognize that the optimal way to prevent airborne transmission is to use a combination of interventions from across the hierarchy of controls, not just PPE alone.


N95 Respirators Not for Use by the General Public

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus (COVID-19). Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.


A surgical mask 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. These are often referred to as face masks, although not all face masks are regulated as surgical masks. Note that the edges of the mask are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth.


An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. Note that the edges of the respirator are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth. Surgical N95 Respirators are commonly used in healthcare settings and are a subset of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs), often referred to as N95s.


Filtering facepiece respirators (FFR), which are sometimes called disposable respirators, are subject to various regulatory standards around the world. These standards specify certain required physical properties and performance characteristics in order for respirators to claim compliance with the particular standard. During pandemic or emergency situations, health authorities often reference these standards when making respirator recommendations, stating, for example, that certain populations should use an “N95, FFP2, or equivalent” respirator


The following information is only intended to help clarify some key similarities between such references, specifically to the following FFR performance standards:


• N95 (United States NIOSH-42CFR84)

• FFP2 (Europe EN 149-2001)

• KN95 (China GB2626-2006)

• P2 (Australia/New Zealand AS/NZA 1716:2012)

• Korea 1st class (Korea KMOEL - 2017-64)

• DS (Japan JMHLW-Notification 214, 2018)


Click here for a full list of details.


We hope you were able to find some of this information helpful. Remember to reach out to us for additional information and clarification while helping you fulfill your mask needs.


Sprink Medical Supplies wishes safety and good health.

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