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Which mask?

Daniel Berger, EMT, published a recent article in The Journal of Emergency Medicine comparing different marks types for healthcare professionals reported that fluid resistant surgical masks (level 3) provided filtration at a smaller particle size than the N95 respirator and proved sufficient at filtering of aerosol and droplets associated with bacteria and viruses like COVID-19 and influenza.

An ASTM Level 1 face mask  filters out ≥ 95% of bacteria and ≥ 95% of 0.1 µm particles and provides fluid resistance

Level 2,3 provides a higher level of filtration and therefore respiratory protection.

If the CDC and WHO are correct and COVID-19 is only spread by droplets, or the studies on influenza infection and mask use are applicable, then a simple fluid resistant face mask should provide sufficient protection.

Traditionally, droplets are defined as large (>5 microns) aqueous bodies. 

Perfumes are less than 1 micrometer in diameter and that is why you can smell perfume through an N95

Talc Powder demonstrated a median diameter of 26.57 μm which is used to test for particulate matter.

A proper fit of the mask through fit testing is important since aerosols can escape thru the sides of the mask.

The one-way valves seen on some N95 masks are the industrial variety and protect the person wearing it from particulates but not others around them.

Author
Kari L. Sakurai , D.D.S. Dr. Sakurai is on staff at UCLA Medical Center, St. John's Health, SM-UCLA Orthopedic Hospital, and at LAC+USC as Assistant Adjunct Professor of Clinical Dentistry. With over 25 years of clinical experience and teaching at cutting edge, Universities helps us deliver the evidence-based technology care to our patients.

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