From treating patients to managing safety guidelines, healthcare professionals have their work cut out for them during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If you work in the healthcare sector or manage such a facility, you may have firsthand experience of these challenges. Along with managing your excessive work hours, this also includes the struggles of acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks.
With the frequent shortages of this PPE, it’s also common to see various alternatives such as N95, KN95, and G95 come to the surface. From healthcare workers to the general public, these masks have become the talk of the town over the past few months.
To see more why these masks are so sought after during the pandemic and whether they actually remain interchangeable, here’s a lowdown of N95, KN95, and G95 masks. By going through these details, you can determine which of these masks are a good fit for your usage.
Why Face Masks Are Important in the First Place?
There are two uses of face masks during a pandemic such as COVID-19.
One applies to the general public, while the other holds true for healthcare professionals. With this information in hand, it would be easier for you to understand how N95, KN95, and G95 masks compare to each other. This would also allow you to order exactly what you need from 72hours.ca.
Masks for the General Public
The novel coronavirus mainly spreads through people who are already infected by it. Whenever an infected individual discharges their respiratory droplets into the air by talking, breathing, or coughing, anyone who catches these particles through their eyes, nose, and mouth may develop COVID-19.
In order to curb the spread of the virus, infected individuals can wear protective face coverings. These masks catch the wearer’s respiratory droplets and reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others.
Since a large portion of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic or show no symptoms, everyone’s adherence to this practice can curb the inadvertent spread of the virus. This means that even when you are not in the healthcare industry, wearing a cloth mask or a protective face covering can help keep your community safe.
For the Healthcare Sector
Frontline healthcare workers have to interact with COVID-19 patients on the regular. This means that wearing a cloth mask doesn’t protect them from inhaling the respiratory droplets that are discharged by infected individuals.
As a result, these individuals have to make sure that they wear special PPE that can clean or block these respiratory droplets from the air they breathe in. This PPE includes specialized face masks that are made for the purpose of filtering the air. These masks are also called filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs).
When these special masks are paired with other equipment such as safety goggles and face shields, it ensures that the viral particles don’t enter the wearer’s system through their eyes, mouth, or nose. As a result, these FFRs let healthcare workers reduce their chances of catching COVID-19.
What are N95 Masks?
Made with nonwoven fiber, N95 masks are FFRs that are used to clean the air that is breathed in by the wearer. In the case of N95, this particulate FFR can filter the air of at least 95 percent of pollutants. This includes particles from dust, mist, and fumes.
The N95 mask can effectively block particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. While the virus that causes COVID-19 is smaller in size, it latches onto larger particles to transmit to humans through the air. As a result, N95 masks are highly effective in catching and blocking out the virus before it can affect the wearer.
To make sure that the wearer is only breathing in filtered air through their mask, N95 masks use a professionally-fitted design that creates a seal against the face. This ensures that no leaked air is escaping through the mask and the wearer is only breathing in oxygen through their mask’s material.
On the other hand, the air that the wearer exhales is not effectively filtered by the mask. As a result, if the mask’s wearer has COVID-19, they can still spread it to others through their own respiratory droplets. This is one of the reasons why N95 masks are required to be disposed of after each usage.
This makes N95 masks an ideal choice for healthcare workers who are in active COVID-19 treatment settings. Since these individuals are surrounded by highly viral agents, the mask reduces their chances of catching COVID-19 while treating patients. But since the wearers interact with patients who already have COVID-19, the mask’s lack of filtration for exhaled air doesn’t pose any additional risks to anyone else.
What are KN95 Masks?
KN95 masks work the same way as N95 masks and also come in the form of disposable PPE. They simply use a different certification standard. While the N95 mask is certified by a U.S. authority called the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), KN95 are certified by safety standards in China.
During COVID-19, U.S. and Canadian health and safety authorities have allowed the use of internationally-certified masks such as KN95. This ensures that healthcare workers can access this PPE to protect themselves through the risks of treating infected patients.
With that being said, the major difference between some types of KN95 masks comes in the form of their fit. N95 masks are attached to two headbands that are wrapped against the back of the wearer’s head. But some KN95 masks come in an ear loop design that doesn’t use the same mechanism. Since this can affect the required face seal effect, healthcare professionals recommend that you only purchase KN95 masks that come with the headband design. This helps you stay protected in healthcare treatment settings.
What are G95 Masks?
Unlike N95 or KN95 masks, G95 masks do not follow a set standard of PPE certification. The label “G95” belongs to an apparel company that makes highly effective face masks and consumer PPE. However, its products remain short of a standardized certification by a government agency.
G95 masks, hoodies, and other protective apparel are washable and reusable. They also use two layers of fabric that have a filtration material within them. According to the brand’s own tests, this can filter out viral agents with 99.9 percent efficacy. With that being said, these masks are not professionally-fitted and do not create a seal against the face. That is why this particular efficacy can be reduced in real-world usage as opposed to lab test results.
This makes G95 masks a good choice as a general protective face covering. If you want to wear a face mask out of a healthcare setting, then these products are a good fit for you that could keep yourself and those around you safer from the pandemic. But in case you are buying PPE as a healthcare worker, then you should look into either N95 or KN95 masks.
By keeping this distinction in mind, you can ensure to make an informed decision to safeguard yourself as well as others in the face of COVID-19.
Whether you want to browse a reliable collection of PPE or have any questions in your mind, don’t hesitate to reach out to 72hours.ca today. With our expertise and inventory, we can help you find the products that fit your specific usage.