An N95 mask can save your life, or at the very least extend your health. There are many personal and professional reasons to use a mask that covers your mouth and nose.
Before you make a decision on which mask is best for daily use, do a little bit of research. This guide should be more than enough to get you started.
The picks below can protect you from airborne particles, pollution and other contaminants. By default, they also support healthy outside habits by preventing you from face touching – this is one of the easiest ways to spread the virus.
Consumers that already have breathing problems can rest easy knowing that some of the masks on the list take their disability into consideration.
Editor’s note: Be selective about where you get updated coronavirus news. Our picks for masks and respirators are only a single step of many you need to be protected. Being uninformed about the coronavirus is more dangerous than purchasing the wrong mask.
Best N95 Masks For Coronavirus
Our Best Pick
|• A multi-layer activated carbon filter|
• Breathable air vents
• Comfortable fit
• Adjustable nose clips
|#2. 3M 8511 Respirator |
|• Unique design|
• Adjustable nose clip
• Fits tight without being uncomfortable
It comes with a high N95 protection level and a design that fits securely onto your face. This helps to reduce your chances of inhaling airborne particles.
Here are some of the top features of SafeMask:
- Dust and airborne particle-free filter, made with nanotechnology
- Designed to fit men, women, and teens. Adjusts to fit all ages
- Lightweight and designed thin for comfort
- Created with a high quality and breathable polyurthane
- The carbon filter is multilayered for the ultimate in protection
SafeMask is a better face mask as surgical masks are highly disposable and often only used once for a few hours or a day.
The SafeMask lasts because it is reusable and durable. This means you will be prepared to face harmful airborne allergens.
#2. 3M 8511 N95 Respirator with Cool Flow Valve
The 3M 8511 respirator is the face mask people use when they mean business. It is a best seller that makes the user feel confident when worn. The unique design of this product helps breathing, making it a lot less restrictive than products of the same size.
Although bulky on the outside, this mask is easier to breathe into than half the masks on this list. On top of the superior design, it comes with an adjustable nose clip for face compatibility. There are no open gaps left once you secure the mask to your face. It stops bacteria, viruses, pollution and more.
Comes in a pack of 10. The M-nose clip is intuitive enough to fit teens and preteens. Stretchable headband helps with comfort and balance if you’re an active user. Lightweight, and doesn’t require the changing of filters. Can also be used by patients that are suffering from contagious diseases.
It seems like 3M 8511 mask would be the best choice. It provides the best protection and NIOSH approved but it’s not available to purchase at the moment.
If you’re looking for a reusable dust mask, then the SafeMask is the bee’s knees. You won’t find a stronger filter, and it’s nice to maintain breathing flexibility with that much protection.
Stay safe, and always have a backup mask nearby.
What Is The Latest Information From The CDC?
COVID-19 was first identified in China. It is a new type of the coronavirus, and much more dangerous than previous infectious diseases.
It spreads from person to person, with large geographic areas causing a ‘community spread’.
Isolation has been the biggest factor in keeping the disease contained. Since this is a new version of the coronavirus, testing kits are still being developed and deployed with varying levels of effectiveness.
Case by case trials have shown that the disease is more dangerous to older victims. Although it affects all age ranges, older victims should be extra cautious.
While changes in weather are known to slow down certain strains of the coronavirus, COVID-19 is still in the unknown category. So, even with changing seasons, there is no guarantee the virus will become any less effective.
Worldwide, the virus has already reached many other countries due to lax travel restrictions. Infected and non-infected should follow all mandatory protection protocols in place.
Are Masks Required For The Coronavirus Outbreak?
Due to the unknown nature of the virus, there are only a few methods to protect against it. You can catch it through touch (person to person) and through airborne contact.
Think of it as an advanced version of the flu. Highly contagious, and requiring a little bit of situational awareness.
A mask stops you from getting COVID-19 in the most obvious of ways, which is airborne. But another less obvious way is that it prevents you from touching your nose and mouth.
This is one of the easiest ways to get the virus when you’re outside of your home. We often touch this area of our face without realizing it several times per day.
Along with the mask, hand sanitizer and staying away from crowded areas is your best bet. Food buffets are often a bad idea, and are currently not a viable restaurant option even in areas where the virus has not spread.
There are people that are infected and think of COVID-19 as a common cold. Use a mask and common sense as your last line of protection.
Is It Essential To Have An N95 Mask?
This is the million-dollar question, of course. The spread of the coronavirus happens with airborne and person to person contact within 6 feet.
So, unless you isolate yourself, there are plenty of chances to come into close contact with it. A mask stops you from inhaling hazardous particles that travel through the air.
An N95 filter gets rid of a large number of these harmful particles in the air. Even on a generic face mask of low quality, having the N95 rating guarantees that it will remove at least 95% of these harmful particles.
Think of being N95 rated as a way to ensure you get adequate protection where it counts the most. Part of its effectiveness is the seal, which is why comfort is often talked about with face masks.
An uncomfortable mask doesn’t have much use if it needs constant adjustment throughout the day. Although the seal is vital to the usefulness of N95 rated masks, they should still fit like a glove.
Too many adjustments may be a sign that there is a gap somewhere in the seal.
Will A Reusable Mask Lose Its Effectiveness?
A reusable face mask will not lose its effectiveness if you follow normal care procedures. Most masks in this category are air dry only.
Putting it in the dryer will cause permanent damage, or at the very least force the mask to lose its shape.
The most important part of a reusable mask is its filter. Once the filter has been used a certain number of times, it needs to be changed.
This is a painless process, but does require you to have backup filters handy. Waiting too long to change the filter can be just as harmful as not having a mask at all.
Wash your mask regularly, and dry it according to the instructions. Keep backup filters handy, preferably nearby if you wear the mask out in public.
And if possible, buy a minimum of two reusable face masks. That way you have a spare one available when the other is drying.
How Long Do The Filters Last?
This is one of the more difficult questions to answer since it varies based on the product and general use.
There are some models that can last a full year without changing the filter, while others only last half that time. General use scenarios for the coronavirus paint a more limited picture for safety reasons.
That means you should expect to use a filter no longer than 6 months after it is out of the package. If the mask/respirator has been stored for more than 5 years, then consider purchasing a replacement.
Once again, it is not because the mask has expired or is useless. This is just extra safety tips to guarantee the best experience.
Often, you can tell beforehand when a filter needs to be changed based on the quality of the air. When you can smell or taste an unknown odor, then it needs to be changed.
Strong smells or odors in a safe setting is a sign that it needs to be changed ahead of schedule.
What Is NIOSH Approved?
The NIOSH rating is easy to understand and can help you identify what a mask protects against. N95, N99, and N100 respectively point to the number of airborne particles that are filtered by the mask.
While N100 only filters 99.97%, it is still the best you can get and is often used in military exercises.
When you get to P95, P99 and P100, you get a similar level of protection, but one that is strongly resistant to oil. For certain activities, this is a requirement.
The only other consumer level of NIOSH protection to worry about is R95, R99 and R100. It has partial oil resistance, so is a good middle ground when needed.
Using N95 and N99 masks is more than enough to protect against COVID-19. Once you get into the 100 territory, you’re better off with isolation protocols.
There is also a level of comfort with the N95 and N99 level that makes them more practical for daily use.
Are Masks Uncomfortable To Wear With Facial Hair?
In the military, soldiers are often required to shave their beard to wear masks. A beard can interfere with the seal and render the mask useless.
And on the comfort level, it will get hot and sweaty after prolonged use. Imagine spending half the day itching a hot beard that is trapped in heat.
For consumer level face masks, this causes a similar problem. If you want it to be effective, then there should not be thick hair along the sealing area of the mask.
Although it can be used with a beard, you can expect it to be uncomfortable for the duration of wearing.
In humid climates, wearing a face mask with a beard will cause the dreaded ingrown facial hairs. Over time this can develop into a painful cyst that causes itching and an eventual infection.
The best way to combat this problem is to shave your beard before prolonged use of a face mask.