Types of N95 Masks Available

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm, and scientists and medical professionals are working around the clock to find a cure. In the meantime, the best way to control the spread of the virus is through social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as the N95 mask. But did you know that there are different types of N95 mask available in the market? Understanding the different types is important in making sure that you are getting the best protection possible. In this article, we will guide you through the different types of N95 masks available in the market and help you choose the one that suits your needs.

Surgical N95 respirators – These are N95 masks that are specifically designed for medical use and provide protection against airborne particles and fluid resistance. They are also approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These masks are the best choice for healthcare providers, front liners, and people who are in close proximity to COVID-19 patients.

Industrial N95 respirators – These masks are designed to protect workers who are exposed to dust, fumes, and other hazardous substances in their workplace. They are designed to filter out the wearer’s breathing air from dust, mist, and smoke. They are not intended to be used for medical purposes but can provide adequate protection against COVID-19 if NIOSH approved.

DIY N95 Masks – These masks are made at home using materials you have at home. While these masks may not be as effective as surgical or industrial N95 respirators, they can still provide some level of protection against COVID-19. They can be made with a HEPA filter, a vacuum cleaner bag, or even a coffee filter. However, it is important to remember that these masks are not tested or approved by any regulating agency, and their effectiveness is not guaranteed.

Cloth Masks – These are made of cloth materials and are not as effective as N95 masks in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. However, they can still be used to cover your face when going out or in crowded areas. They can also be made at home using cloth materials and can be washed and reused. It is important to note that cloth masks can vary in design and effectiveness, and it is essential to choose the right material and fit to ensure a good seal.

N95 with valve – These are N95 respirators with an exhalation valve that makes breathing easier but can release unfiltered air into the environment. While these masks are popular among people who wear them for long periods, they can still spread COVID-19 to others. It is, therefore, essential to avoid wearing them in public places, especially when social distancing is not possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) across the world. One such equipment is the N95 mask which is considered the gold standard of respiratory protection by healthcare workers and the general public alike. However, there are different types of N95 masks available on the market with varying features and levels of protection. This article will help you understand the different types of N95 masks and their uses.

  1. Disposable N95 masks: Disposable N95 masks are the most commonly used N95 masks and are frequently used in healthcare settings. These masks offer a high level of filtration efficiency (minimum 95% of airborne particles) and are designed to be discarded after single use. They come in different shapes and sizes to fit a range of faces, and feature adjustable straps for a more secure fit. Disposable N95 masks are relatively inexpensive and readily available, making them an ideal choice for general use.
  2. Reusable N95 masks: Reusable N95 masks offer the same level of protection and filtration as disposable N95 masks, but they are designed to be used multiple times. They are often made of strong and durable materials and feature replaceable filters. However, because these masks are designed for multiple uses, they often come in a higher price range. They are an excellent choice for individuals who frequently require respiratory protection.
  3. N95 surgical masks: N95 surgical masks are a type of disposable N95 mask that is primarily used in surgical settings. They are designed to protect both the wearer and the patient from airborne particles, including those emitted during surgical procedures. They feature a fluid-resistant layer and a nosepiece that helps to minimize the amount of contaminated air that penetrates the mask. N95 surgical masks are also a great choice for individuals who work in close proximity to others, such as in dental or healthcare settings.
  4. Powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs): PAPRs are respiratory protection devices that are battery-powered and offer a more advanced level of protection than traditional N95 masks. They feature a blower unit that draws in contaminated air and filters it through a specialized filter before it is released. PAPRs offer a high level of protection against airborne particles and have a greater ability to resist contaminated air that has a higher level of pressure. They are often used by healthcare workers when treating patients with highly infectious diseases.
  5. N95 masks with valves: N95 masks with valves are a subtype of N95 masks that feature a valve that allows exhaled air to escape. They are designed to make breathing easier while wearing a mask, especially during physically demanding tasks. However, the valve feature can potentially allow infected air to escape through the valve, making them less effective in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Therefore, N95 masks with valves are not recommended for use in healthcare settings, but can be used for general use.


In conclusion, choosing the right N95 mask is crucial in protecting yourself and others against the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the factors to consider when choosing an N95 mask include the level of protection required, the intended purpose, and the availability of the mask. Always choose the N95 mask that is NIOSH approved and avoid N95 masks with an exhalation valve. Remember, wearing a mask is one of the most critical measures to slow the spread of the virus, and it is essential to wear them correctly and consistently.

In conclusion, there are different types of N95 masks available with varying features and levels of protection. Disposable N95 masks are the most commonly used, but reusable N95 masks are suitable for individuals who require respiratory protection on a regular basis. N95 surgical masks are designed to be used in surgical procedures to protect both the wearer and the patient, while PAPRs offer a more advanced level of protection. Lastly, N95 masks with valves are designed for general use, but they are not recommended for use in healthcare settings due to the potential for infected air to escape through the valve. Understanding the different types of N95 masks can help individuals make informed decisions while purchasing and using respiratory protection equipment during these challenging times.

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