By now you’ve probably had a wide variety of masks — cotton, silk, filtered, unfiltered, disposable and more. There have been a lot of different options available, and wearing anything is better than wearing nothing. But as the pandemic progresses and new strains are being discovered, it’s important to prioritize having the best protection you can. N95 masks are widely considered the most protective masks available. Here’s what you need to know.
They Are More Widely Available
In the beginning months of the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to find N95 masks unless you worked in a hospital (and even then, it was tough). This led many people to settle for other masks or double-masking to get maximum protection, as N95s were saved for healthcare workers. Since then, production has ramped up and they have become more accessible in the United States. You can now purchase N95 face masks in bulk from sites like Green Supply. They often sell out due to popularity, so be sure to check back regularly.
They Protect Against Small Droplets
Scientists have learned that it’s not just large cough droplets that are responsible for transmitting COVID-19. Small droplets, like from contaminated hands, can also spread the virus. Unfortunately, these smaller particles also travel farther. While fabric masks do a decent job of protecting against the larger droplets, N95 masks are the only ones with protection against the small droplets. Starting to wear N95 masks is the only way that you can be certain that you are protecting yourself properly from these smaller transmissions that can come from touching a door handle, or from particles in the air from people more than six feet away from you.
They Barely Leak
You’ve probably heard plenty of tips to prevent your mask from leaking, from double-masking to twisting the elastic bands that go around your ears. But none of those tips will match the anti-leaking power of N95 masks. Since they are technically a respirator, you can actually do a seal test while wearing one. This entails breathing deeply out and feeling with your hands for any air leaks, and then breathing in sharply while pushing around the edges to be sure that a seal is made. As you can imagine, this would not work with any fabric face masks.
They Don’t Have a Valve
Lastly, N95 masks do not have valves. Some people prefer to wear masks with valves because they find them easier to breathe with. But that’s for a good reason — when you wear a mask with a valve, you are only protecting yourself. The valves allow your breath, and therefore saliva droplets, to come out without being filtered. The N95, on the other hand, stops 95 percent of those particles from leaving the mask. If you cannot wear an N95 mask for any reason, at least be sure to wear a mask that does not have a valve so you are protecting others.
N95 masks are the best masks/respirators available to protect yourself and others from the dangers of COVID-19. Now that they are more widely available, this is the best purchase you can make to protect yourself. The combination of the powerful seal and small droplet protection make it the top option as this pandemic persists.