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What are surgical masks and respirators

What are surgical masks and respirators

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has left many health care providers scrambling for basic personal protective equipment, or PPE. To get more news about famous type I mask factory, you can visit official website.

Surgical masks and respirators are two forms of PPE that health care providers need to work safely in a pandemic. Surgical masks and respirators both act as a barrier that catches hazardous materials before they enter a healthy person’s mouth or nose.
Surgical masks are loose-fitting pieces of filtering fabric that typically hook over a wearer’s ears and across their face. In a medical setting, masks can be used to protect healthy wearers, but also to prevent a sick wearer’s fluids (in the form of a sneeze or a cough, or speaking in close proximity) from spreading. Though they come in a variety of protection levels, they are most effective in stopping large droplets of fluid, like blood or saliva — but because of their loose fit even when worn correctly, air can still escape along the sides of the mask.

Medical respirators are cuplike devices that form a tight seal on the wearer’s face. When fitted correctly, inhaled air has to be pulled through the respirator’s filtration material. An N95 designation means that in an optimum setting, the respirator filters out at least 95 percent of particles as the wearer inhales. Depending on the respirator, the particles it is able to filter out could be thousands of times smaller than a human red blood cell. Because of the intensity of the filtration, N95 respirators can be uncomfortable for the wearer, who may even experience difficulty breathing; the Food and Drug Administration warns that people with respiratory and cardiac issues should not wear them without consulting a doctor. Both forms of PPE are now in short supply all over the world, and were predominantly produced in China prior to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Businesses and production were significantly slowed in China while the country was coping with their outbreak.
The filtration technology in surgical masks and respirators relies on melt-blowing, an expensive process that creates a microscopic plastic mesh. This mesh makes up the inner layer of the PPE filter. The more layers a single PPE unit has, the more protective it is against tiny particles. Surgical masks have two to four thin layers, and respirators have five to six layers that vary in rigidity and density.

Surgical masks probably give a small degree of protection, acting as a physical barrier,” said Raina MacIntyre, who leads the Biosecurity Research Program at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute in Australia. In her research, MacIntyre compares how well different PPE protect against illness, in both clinical and home settings. With correct use, respirators fit tightly on the face and are generally the safest option. “Respirators are designed as respiratory protection, and are regulated on filtration capacity,” MacIntyre said in an email. “They fit tightly around the face, and do not allow air leakage. Surgical masks are not regulated on filtration, and allow air leakage around the edges.”

Surgical masks and respirators are ideally used in different situations, said Dr. Maryann D’Alessandro, who directs the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“[Surgical masks] protect the patient by limiting the spread of potentially hazardous particles that are expelled by the wearer, and also help provide a physical barrier to protect the wearer from splashes, sprays, or contact with contaminated hands,” D’Alessandro said in an email. When worn properly, respirators are designed to protect the wearer, i.e. a healthcare worker.

Without sufficient training, most people will wear both surgical masks and respirators incorrectly, Dr. D’Alessandro said. Surgical masks have a metal strip that needs to be bent across the nose to ensure they are flush with the face, she said, while respirators require a proper seal and fit before use.

D’Alessandro’s lab assists in creating the training that is mandatory for every U.S. worker who is required to wear PPE. During these sessions, D’Alessandro said the instructor reviews why a respirator is needed, how to check and test if it fits properly, how to put on and remove the respirator safely, what to do if it is contaminated and how to check each component.

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