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Masks vs Respirators

In day to day language we often say mask, when referring to what are technically called respirators.

Uses for Masks:

  • Masks are loose fitting, covering the nose and mouth.

  • Designed for one-way protection, to capture bodily fluid leaving the wearer.

  • Example – worn during surgery to prevent coughing, sneezing, etc on the vulnerable patient.

  • Contrary to belief, masks are NOT designed to protect the wearer.

  • The vast majority of masks do not have a safety rating assigned to them (e.g. NIOSH or EN).

Uses for Respirators:

  • Respirators are tight fitting masks, designed to create a facial seal.

  • Non-valved respirators provide good two-way protection, by filtering both inflow and outflow of air.

  • These are designed protect the wearer (when worn properly), up to the safety rating of the mask.

  • Available as disposable, half face or full face.

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