Mask, Particulate Respirator Type N95, Coronavirus, Respirator Episode 14: What is an N95?
I am abby carlson i’m, an infectious diseases doctor at the cdc and it’s great to have you here today. In an earlier episode, we talked about respirators what it is and what it does now. Let’S talk about a specific type of respirator that’s recommended for cova 19 and that we use a lot in health care. The n95 let’s start with this question. What does n95 actually mean? N95 is a term that’s given to certain respirators tested and approved by our colleagues over at the national institute for occupational safety and health or niosh. Niosh is the part of the cdc that does this important work of studying worker safety and health and giving employers and workers the tools that they need to create safe and healthy workplaces. Some n95s for healthcare might also be regulated by the fda. The food and drug administration – there are two big things to remember about n95s and how they protect. You filter and fit n95s are made of special filtering materials, and the term n95 means that niosh has tested the material and proven that it filters out, at least at least 95 percent of those very small particles in the air that we’re worried about. Hence the n95. You might also hear the term surgical n95 and a surgical n95 has features that are needed in certain situations in healthcare, where there might be more splashes and sprays like surgery, so they’re a little bit more resistant to getting that that watery material on it and not Breaking down that’s, not all there is to it, though, because not and not every m95 is the same.
Niosh approved n95s are necessary and you should use a respirator that is niosh approved. Your employer is responsible for making sure that this has been approved and we’ve put a link to the niosh website in the comments so that you can learn more about which respirators, which n95s, in particular, are approved by niosh. The other part of it is that they all have filtering material, but they may not all fit your face. The same, for example, niosh, approved n95s, are going to have two straps that go around your head and not loops that go around the ears because they aren’t able to give you the good fit and seal that you need. You also need to have fit testing to make sure like clothes, that they fit your face. The way they’re supposed to we’re going to talk about that in just a minute in more detail, because it’s a really important step, but let’s talk first about how your n95 works. N95S are designed to filter out certain sizes of particles, including droplets in the air. Before that air reaches your mouth, your nose and your lungs, and we need that in health care, but some of those because some of those droplets might be carrying virus, which we talked about in an earlier episode. N95S, can do this job because of the filtering material. But also because of how they fit they’re put together in a way that makes sure that all the air that you’re breathing in goes through that filter.
First, and in order to be certain that that’s happening, you have to find an n95 model that fits you right. We do that with a fit test. The first step of a fit test is actually a medical evaluation. It makes sure that the n95 is the right respirator for you that it’s not going to hurt you or you don’t have a medical condition where it would be made worse by using an n95, and your employer again is responsible for making sure that you get that Medical evaluation done before the fit test, then you need to be fit tested for each model that you might wear at work to make sure that it fits right around your face, because if it doesn’t, you might breathe in air through gaps around the edges of the Respirator and then that air won’t be filtered and it could end up making you sick so that snug fit it’s not having to be super tight. It’S not supposed to hurt you, but it should be a snug fit all the way around and that’s important for getting all of your air through the filter, it’s also important to put on or don the n95 correctly and to check each time. The seal of your n95 was something we call a user seal check. We’Re going to talk about that in another video most n95s are also good at blocking your own respiratory droplets, when you wear them so that any germs that you might be breathing out, don’t reach the air and infect other people like sars, kovi too.
If you’re infected and that’s one of the main reasons we really like to use n95s and healthcare, they do two jobs at once. They protect you from viruses, but they also protect everyone else from any viruses that you might be carrying and breathing out. So because n95s are specially tested and fitted to filter the air we breathe before we breathe it in. We know that almost all these droplets that others are breathing out, some which might have virus inside, will be caught by the filter before getting to us, and this protects us from getting sick even when we’re around people and very close to people who are breathing out A lot of respiratory droplets with a lot of virus, inside of them like our patients with coven 19 and other people who might be infected. So, as always, thank you for joining us be sure to follow up with us on twitter, on facebook and, of course, on our website cdc.gov project first line.