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The difference between ordinary surgical masks and N95 masks

Reymon

Before going into detail about masks, it's important to understand how COVID-19 spreads and the difference between droplets and aerosols.

While scientists are still studying how the virus spreads from person to person, the virus appears to be spread primarily through droplets and potentially through aerosol particles at very close distances.

Droplets are usually large liquid particles produced by coughing or sneezing. Due to their large size, these particles do not travel too far before falling to the surface. That's how the virus spreads through contaminated surfaces, like doorknobs.

Aerosols, on the other hand, are very small particles that are so light that they can remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. In addition to spreading through coughing and sneezing, talking or breathing can release aerosols.

Think of it this way: droplets are like rain, and aerosols are like fog. On a rainy day, you just walk under the eaves and you won't get wet, because gravity pulls the rain straight to the ground (excluding wind). In contrast, fog is very light, can float in the air, and can take up almost any space.

N95 masks

The N95 mask is technically a breathing mask, named for its ability to filter 95% of particles in the environment using static electricity. To ensure the safety and effectiveness of masks, all N95 masks must be tested and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Unlike other forms of masks, N95 masks fit snugly against the skin and must be machine-fit tested when worn by each individual. When worn correctly, the mask should fit snugly against the skin to form a seal to minimize leakage, so N95 is very safe, but may not be comfortable,

Static electricity combined with high fit and low leakage make N95 the best protective mask, but it is not necessary for ordinary people to wear N95. N95s are very important supplies and should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, otherwise we are putting them at great risk. "

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said it is not recommended for the general public to wear N95s.

N95s are critical to protecting healthcare workers who provide direct patient care. Not only do they have to be in close contact with patients, but they also routinely perform procedures such as ventilator intubation, which generate large numbers of aerosol particles, increasing their risk of infection.

Before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, N95 masks were often used by patients with highly contagious aerosolized respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis, and these masks need to be discarded after each visit. Today, N95 is in short supply, and clinicians must wear respirators throughout their shifts and recycle them after disinfection.

surgical mask

Surgical masks are the most commonly used masks at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The beauty of a surgical mask is that it acts as a fluid barrier, which can block large droplets or splashes of bodily fluids for you. Plus, surgical masks don’t need to be tested for fit.

Unlike N95s, surgical masks do not block aerosols. Surgical masks do not provide adequate protection if in direct contact with patients infected with 2019-nCoV during aerosol generation

Surgical masks are extremely precious personal protective equipment at a time when the novel coronavirus is raging. At Massachusetts General Hospital, everyone must wear a surgical mask when entering the hospital because it blocks droplets and prevents the wearer from spreading disease when they cough or sneeze. It also protects healthcare workers from direct contact with asymptomatic people or patients with the undiagnosed novel coronavirus. Masks must be discarded when leaving, which illustrates the critical importance of maintaining an adequate supply of masks for such public facilities.

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