A respirator mask is a personal protective equipment that prevents the wearer from inhaling aerosols as well as vapors or gases that are health hazards. Unlike normal surgical mask that only protects against infectious droplets (e.g. droplets of saliva or other secretions), respirator mask can also protect the wearer from inhaling micro airborne infectious agents such as airborne virus (including coronavirus, SARS, H1N1, etc).
In the US and many other countries, respirator mask must meet the industry standard, which has three grades of disposable respirator masks, known as N90, N95 and N99 (equivalent to FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 masks in European standard)
- N90 refers to an aerosol filtration of at least 80% and leakage to the inside of maximum 22%. This mask is mainly used as a dust mask (home renovations and various types of work).
- N95 masks, also known as FFP2 masks in the European standard, have a minimum of 95% filtration percentage and maximum 8% leakage to the inside. They are mainly used in construction, agriculture, and by healthcare professionals against influenza viruses. As the most common and best-selling type of respirator mask, N95 masks have been proven effective for protection against the coronavirus.
- N99 masks, also known as FFP3 masks in the European standard, are the most filtering masks in the market. With a minimum filtration percentage of 99% and maximum 2% leakage to the inside, they protect against very fine particles such as asbestos. It is the best mask to protect against coronavirus.