Updates & Insights for EHS Professionals
COVID Variants & Respiratory Protection
With more Covid-19 variants on the horizon and manufacturers meeting demand for masks, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide what face covering (filtering facepiece or “masks") is right for you and your employees. The following information should aid in this decision-making process.
Masking has been determined by the CDC to be effective in preventing the spread of COVID. When determining a workplace mask, it is important to remember good mask design. These elements include that the mask must: cover the wearer’s nose and mouth, fit correctly and snugly against the sides of the mouth and nose without gaps, have a means of keeping the mask attached like ear loops or around the head straps, and be constructed of a non-toxic and non-irritating material.
Available Filtering Facepieces
N95: Filters at least 95% of airborne particles. These offer protection against particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. While the coronavirus itself is around 0.1 microns in size, it is usually attached to something larger, such as droplets that are generated by everyday activities such as breathing or talking.
Surgical N95: A NIOSH approved N95 Respirator that has also been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration as a surgical mask.
N99: Filters at least 99% of airborne particles.
N100: Filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles.
KN95: similar protection properties to the N95 masks. N95 masks are certified via NIOSH based on US standards and KN95 masks are approved via the Chinese standard.
R95: Filters at least 95% of airborne particles. They are somewhat resistant to oil, which means it will filter out an particle, including oil-based liquid aerosols.
P95: Filters at least 95% of airborne particles. Strongly resistant to oil.
P99: Filters at least 99% of airborne particles. Strongly resistant to oil.
P100: Filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles. Strongly resistant to oil.
Additionally, the CDC also recognizes cloth masks with at least two layers for protection.