With the pollution levels going up year after year, it has become absolutely necessary to protect yourself from harmful pollutants in the air. Breathing in pollutant air can lead to a plethora of diseases. While we as individuals can only do so much to control air pollution, we also have to keep in mind that our safety is in our own hands.
We can avoid breathing in pollutant air using air masks or respirators. Air masks come with several different specifications and ratings. It is really important for you to understand these specifications before you decide to buy one.
Some people speculate that wearing surgical masks can protect you from harmful pollutants. This is a myth that needs busting on a mass level. As of now, you can just learn about two of the most popular air masks (N95 and N99) and the differences between them.
The basic difference between N95 masks and N99 masks is their filter efficiency.
Let’s understand these in detail and see what other differences are there.
N95 vs N99
|Filters up to 95% of the fine particles (PM2.5) from the air||Filters up to 99% of the fine particles (PM2.5) from the air|
|Not resistant to oil and oil-based pollutants||Not resistant to oil and oil-based pollutants|
|Regulated by NIOSH||Regulated by NIOSH|
|Approved by CDC||Approved by CDC|
|Not Oil Resistant||Not Oil Resistant|
As you can see, there are more similarities and less differences between the N95 mask and the N99 mask. To understand the distinctions between these two maSks further, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these masks.
Pros and Cons of N95 masks
- They have a three-strap design that provides a secure seal preventing the outside air from getting in.
- They offer protection against air pollution, fog, smoke, etc.
- They have a cool flow valve that provides extra comfort to the wearer.
- They have a metal nose bridge that makes the mask secure and fit.
- They have been approved and certified by NIOSH.
- They can’t be washed or reused.
Pros and Cons of N99 masks
- They filter nearly 100% of contaminants and airborne gases.
- They can be washed and reused.
- They have replaceable filters.
- They let the wearers breathe in a hassle-free manner.
- They have an adjustable nose bridge
- They have filters that are difficult to position.
Things to consider before buying a mask:
Look for masks that have activated carbon filters. They can effectively filter out gases and air-borne chemicals from the air you breathe.
Make sure that your masks have the required certification from the concerned authorities in your country. In the US, you need to look for certification from the CDC.
Look for certain factors in the mask such as washability, reusability and breathability. Make sure that the mask has one or two exhale valves. This makes the mask comfortable for breathing.
Make sure that the mask fits you perfectly. A mask that does not fit well leaks air. This makes it practically useless.