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An Overview Of Different Kinds Of Masks’ Filtration Efficiency

Filtration efficiency is a percentage value which states the amount of contaminant particles a mask can filter out. There are different kinds of filtration efficiency that help us identify whether it is respiratory protective equipment or not. 

When you’re shopping for an air mask, there are two important things you need to be on the lookout for—the shape of the mask and the filtration efficiency of it. 

If you purchase one that isn’t correctly fitted or if it doesn’t have an adequate filter, it won’t be able to do much to help you stay safe from airborne contaminants and hazards in the environment you’re in. You need to make sure that your mask has both to protect you as effectively as possible.

N95 Mask

According to NIOSH, an N95 respirator is an air-purifying respirator that has a tight-fitting facepiece and filters at least 95% of airborne particles that pass through it. Typically, they are designed for larger particles like dust or allergens.

They aren’t as effective against gases, vapors, or tiny particulates (like ash from a volcanic eruption). Some manufacturers claim that these models can also filter out some chemical agents. While not expensive, these models are generally more effective than regular masks.

Full Face Sheild

Full-length face shields have proven to have a high filtration efficiency. Many researchers agree that these protectors offer an excellent level of protection against particles and harmful gases, with some of them even going as far as to say that they are nearly 100% efficient in protecting users from exposure.

However, studies also show that when it comes to filtering out toxic fumes and vapors, full-length face shields do not always perform well; hence most safety experts tend to recommend other kinds of respirators instead whenever possible.

That said, full-length masks can provide great protection under certain circumstances; for example, if used properly during certain activities such as welding or cleaning chemicals that only produce fumes but no harmful dusts.

Surgical Mask

These are designed to keep away airborne contaminants as small as 0.3 microns, but only in certain parts of your mouth.

They’re disposable (so you can toss them after each use) and fairly inexpensive. The main drawback is that these masks might not fit well if you have a beard or mustache—and because they aren’t fitted, they don’t always provide even coverage.

They might also be handy if you want to take preventative measures while traveling but aren’t sure what kind of pathogens are floating around in public bathrooms or hotel sinks.

Cotton Mask

Cotton is the most popular filtration material choice for air masks. These filters are made from 100% natural fibers. The material is also very lightweight, so you might not even notice it when using one. Cotton has a moderately high filtration capacity for particles up to 2 microns in size. 

Beyond that, however, cotton provides very little protection from more dangerous airborne threats such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.

On top of that, cotton can become saturated after a certain time. So if you’re wearing them outdoors for prolonged periods, you may need frequent replacements.

Sanket Goyal
the authorSanket Goyal