With omicron raging across the country representing over 98% of COVID cases, experts stress the importance of wearing the greatest air filtration possible, namely N95 respirators. Here is why:
- N95 respirators:
- Safety-Approved in the US: Approved by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, these are tight fitting around the mouth and nose to eliminate unfiltered air. See the CDC’s NIOSH-approved N95 masks.
- One of the Highest Levels of Protection: Filtering 95% of airborne particles, such as viruses, they contain a dense network of polypropylene fibers embedded with static electricity.
- Non-valved: A study at Duke University last year easily illustrates the superior filtration of N95 masks and the importance of non-valved versions. N95 masks with valves ‘can decrease the protection of persons surrounding the wearer.’
- Reuseable: For reuse: get 3-4 N95 masks. Wear one a day rotating use for a 3 or 4 day stretch. After wear for a day, isolate the mask in a paper bag for 3 days to eradicate all viruses on the mask fibers. Then, you can re-wear the mask after 3 days. Throw away any mask if the fit, cleanliness, or integrity is jeopardized.
Information regarding other mask options you should know:
- KN95 and KN94 masks: According to USA Today, ‘KN95s are manufactured in China and meet standards specific to China. KF94 masks are manufactured in Korea and meet the Korean standard requirements.’ According to 3M, ‘Please note: Respirators may be designed to fit people with facial features common in a specific country or region. For example, KN95 respirators may be designed specifically to fit people with facial features common in China and other countries in Asia. As a result, some individuals with different facial features may not be able to achieve a satisfactory fit.’ In addition, the CDC warns that 60% of KN95 sold in the US are counterfeit. See the National Personal Protection Technology Lab’s (NPPTL) international respirator assessments published by the CDC.
- Disposable, 3-ply surgical masks: These have multiple layers of non-woven material with a metal nose piece. See the CDC guidance to optimize a snug fit including knotting the earpiece loops and wearing a cloth mask over the surgical mask.
- Do not wear cloth masks or bandanas: The large pore size of cloth masks, as reported in a study testing 20 cloth masks, is noted to be identified as 80 to 500 micrometers. This renders them an ineffective mouth/nose covering to prevent COVID transmission. The coronavirus size is about 0.12 micrometers.
Cold FAid® wishes you a healthy and happy 2022! Keep up the good work of COVID mitigation!