Is there a difference between a respirator and a surgical mask?
Yes, respirators and surgical mask are different in many ways. Here we will discuss in detail about the key difference between both. Generally surgical mask are used by health care workers as part of their personal protective equipment however respirators offers wide range of protection in different sectors. Respirators are also certified whereas surgical masks are not certified as such. Respirators are always marked with approval rating like N95, N100 etc. but surgical mask does not have any such rating.
When should workers wear a respirator or a surgical mask?
The decision to wear a respirator or surgical mask depends upon the kind of environment the worker is working. These both are designed for specific purpose and should be used in the environment they are designed for.
Respirators are designed to reduce the environmental hazards when workers are working in the environment that has airborne contaminants such as particles, chemicals, gases, fumes, pollen, toxics, or vapours etc. Respirators come in different sizes, styles, and colors. They are made to fit the wearer’s face that provides a tight seal around it while in use. Filters are used in respirators to filter out the contaminated air.
Surgical masks are also known as procedural or medical masks. These masks are specifically designed to help prevent the wearer from infectious diseases. These masks provide protection from splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, secretions, and excretions from reaching the wearer’s mouth and nose. Also these masks are worn by patients as they trap large particles of body fluids that may contain bacteria or viruses expelled by the wearer.
Some common Difference between Respirator and Surgical Mask
- Respirators are certified by National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) whereas Surgical Masks are not.
- Respirators provide seal tight protection to the wearer whereas surgical masks are not designed to seal tight against the face.
- Respirators effectively filter out 99.9% of the harmful particles from the air and even small to smaller particulates whereas surgical mask do not effectively filter small particles from the air.
- Respirators are reusable as you can change its filters after 40 hours of use and replace them with new filters. But in case of surgical masks you have to decompose them after a single use only.