Surgical Face Masks or Respirators?

Personal protective equipment helps protect medical and essential personnel from exposure to contagions. PPE includes surgical/medical face masks and respirators which protect the face from airborne particles and liquid.

Face Masks

A face mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the nose and mouth of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Face masks may be labeled as medical, surgical, isolation, dental, or procedure masks. The masks are made in different thicknesses which provide different levels of protection.

Procedure masks are designed to be effective in blocking splashes, spray, splatter, and large particle droplets. Medical masks also reduce exposure of the wearer’s saliva and respiratory secretions to others. They do not provide complete protection from other germs and contaminants because of their loose fit. Face masks are single use and should be discarded safely if they become damaged, soiled, or if breathing through the mask becomes difficult.

Not all face masks are regulated for surgical or procedural use despite the phrase “surgical” or “procedure mask”. Surgical masks are regulated under the FDA (21 CFR 878.4040).

PGT sells non-surgical face masks to hospitals and medical research and/or care facilities, governments, and essential businesses. PGT does not sell to private brokers or individuals not representing an applicable organization.

Respirators

A respirator is a mask worn over the mouth and nose to prevent the inhalation of contaminants or noxious substances. Respirators, unlike face masks, provide a tight seal against the skin and filter out certain airborne particles. Respirators, including those intended for use in healthcare settings, are certified by the CDC/NIOSH and are rated according to the level at which they filter particles, including bacteria and viruses. N95 respirators, for example, are capable of filtering out at least 95% of very small (0.3 microns) particles.

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N95 respirators are resistant to high-velocity streams of body fluids, which makes it more difficult to breathe. Surgical N95 respirators are designed without exhalation valves, which can make the inside of the mask feel warmer. N95 respirators provide the same level of protection with or without the exhalation valve. The value reduces exhalation resistance to make it easier to breathe. N95 respirators with exhalation valves should not be used where a sterile field must be maintained because the exhalation valve allows unfiltered exhaled air to escape.

N95 respirator masks will have a NIOSH approval number and approval label.

PGT sells N95 respirators to hospitals and medical research and/or care facilities, governments, and essential businesses. PGT does not sell to private brokers or individuals not representing an applicable organization.