Whats the difference?
There has never been so much controversy over face masks and the use of it in society as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, wearing a mask in Australia is recommended by health experts in areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is high, whenever social distancing is not possible.
To help you understand the different face mask available, below is a guide to help you understand the difference.
Surgical Face Mask
Surgical face masks are fluid resistant, disposable, and loose-fitting devices that create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and the immediate environment. They are for use in surgical settings and do not provide full protection from inhalation of airborne pathogens, such as viruses. Source: Food and Drugs Administration
Most masks follows the ASTM International standard and have different levels of protection for the wearer. The main difference between ASTM Level 1, 2 and 3 are the resistance to penetration by synthetic blood.
ASTM Level 1: Procedure Masks
Patient and Staff isolation: Clean environments, processing departments, ER and ICU for bedside procedures.
ASTM Level 3: Surgical Masks
Ideal for sterile surgical settings to protect against fluid transmission.
For more information, refer to Cardinal Health
Respirators are personal protective equipment that tightly fit the face and filter airborne particles to protect the wearer. They provide a higher level of protection against viruses, bacteria, dust, wildfire smoke, and other particulate matter when properly fit-tested.
As a result, N95 masks must have a good facial fit to minimise contamination.
Different standards for equivalent masks:
USA Standard - NIOSH N95 (NIOSH-42CFR84)
European Standard - FFP2 (EN149-2001)
Chinese Standard - KN95 (GB2626-2006)
Australian/NZ Standard - P2 (AS/NZ 1716:2012)
For more information, refer to 3M