1. What’s an N95 mask?
An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective face mask, designed to help reduce the user’s exposure to airborne particles including very small particles (0.3 microns) and large droplets. N95 respirator face mask literally has a filtration efficiency of at least 95% against non-oily particles.
Generally, the N95mask also includes an N95 surgical mask. So, here we will just compare a standard N95 particulate mask with a disposable surgical mask. Surgical masks are designed to be worn by healthcare professionals during surgery and nursing, to help prevent contamination of the surgical field or the patient by capturing liquid droplets that are expelled by the user.
An N95 particulate mask blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 microns) test particles, and while a disposable surgical mask is fluid-resistant and protects the user against large particles (5 microns), droplets, sprays or splatter.
Different from a loose-fitting, disposable surgical mask, an N5 mask is tight-fitting to achieve a very close facial fit, which guarantees a minimal leakage around the edges of the mask when the user inhales. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of disposable surgical face masks.
Speaking of the N95 mask price and disposable surgical mask price, the N95 respirator mask is pricier than a surgical mask. In contrast, the N95 mask is reusable but the common surgical mask is disposable. Strictly speaking, N95 respirator masks should be worn for a maximum of eight hours while the disposable surgical mask is recommended to be replaced every four hours.
However, during the novel coronavirus outbreak, face masks are in short supply and everyone discards one or two face masks every day. A surgical mask could be used for a whole day in a good condition of no damage, no moisture, and no deformation. According to some researches, the N95 respirator mask used for two days still maintains a filtration efficiency of at least 95%, while the filtration efficiency of an N95 respirator used for three days reduced to 94.7%. So, if an N95 respirator is in good maintenance, you can wear it for at least 2 days, a week, maybe even a month.