Let us first understand the difference between ‘Masks’ and ‘Respirators’. Masks are intended to protect others from the wearer’s droplets spat out while speaking or sneezes and coughs whereas respirators are meant to protect the wearer (and others if using a non-valved respirator) from airborne particles, bacteria and viruses. What we usually refer to as protective masks are respirators of different types.
So let’s go ahead and respirators of which ratings you shall buy to protect yourself and others around you.
1. N100 Respirators: These provide minimum 99.97% filtration of microparticles which are of or larger than 0.3 microns in diameter. These come with large, palm-sized filters to be mounted on a basic face mask for air filtration. Best ones are sold by 3M.
2. P3 Respirators: Very similar to N100 yet the small difference in their efficiency of 99.95% should be considered when talking about microscopic-sized viruses such as SARS-COVID-19. But since N100 are rare to be found and are bulky to be worn in some cases, P3 rated masks are a considerable alternative. Venus V800 + 7800 is a P3 rated Respirator.
3. N99 or FFP3 Respirators: These filter out at least 99% of particles with a diameter of 0.3 or larger. Less commonly used but are actually the right ones to be used if trying to avoid bulky and expensive Respirators. Many N99 masks are available for sale in the market some of which are Dettol Cambridge N99 mask, Bodyguard N99 Reusable anti-pollution Mask.
4. N95 Respirators: These types of respirators are most commonly used since they’re easily produced and are marketed more than others. These have a fitting standard to pass and filter out at least 95% of airborne microparticles. Dettol Siti N95 face Mask, Boldfit N95 Mask.
5. FFP2 AND P2 Respirators: These filter out at least 94% of the particles with above-mentioned size. Should be considered an option if above-mentioned Respirators aren’t available. Care view 1221H, Venus V420.
6. FFP1 AND P1 Respirators: These filter out at least 80% of the airborne particles and should be considered least of all the options. Durasafe DS150V, Venus 44+ are few of the available options in the market.
Please note that the use of a face shield increases your protection against infection to a greater extent.
The above-mentioned percentages of efficiency are valid only if the respirators are worn properly and are with no defects.
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