Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.
We have gotten used to regular mask wearing while in an enclosed space with others, and it appears that we will be wearing them for a while longer than expected. I believe we have all heard numerous conflicting facts regarding mask wearing and their various levels of protection.
Most of us have been used to wearing a cloth mask, which is intended to trap respiratory droplets that are released when we talk, cough or sneeze, and provides a barrier to protect us from inhaling droplets released by others. The most effective cloths masks are made of multiple layers of tightly woven fabric like cotton. A mask with layers will stop more droplets from getting through your mask or escaping from it.
The more commonly available surgical face masks are generally graded through ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), but not all masks are graded. You need to make sure that you are purchasing a mask that is graded by the ASTM and it is from a reputable manufacturer. It will have the ASTM level printed on the box and are rated numerically.
- Level One: Low barrier protection. Only for general use, not used for aerosols, spray or fluids.
- Level Two: Moderate barrier protection. Use for low to moderate levels of aerosols, spray and/or fluids.
- Level Three: Maximum barrier protection. Use for high risk of fluid, spray and/or fluids.
Masks are tested to five key performance criteria, bacterial filtration, particulate filtration, fluid resistance, breathability, and flammability. The more resistance it provides, the higher the grade. Surgical masks are loose fitting and do not provide a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles and is not considered respiratory protection because leakage can occur around the edges of the mask.
A respirator mask is designed to reduce the risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles, gases, or vapors. These are graded by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The most commonly used respirator is the surgical N95, which has been tested to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, and must be fit-tested for each individual to ensure proper protection.
Although the availability of surgical and respirator masks have improved, there is still a limited supply. Let SafeSourcing help you source the right masks from a reputable manufacturer. For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk
Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire team ready to assist.
We look forward to your comments.