How does the N95 mask filter harmful particles?

by Natalie Rager

Since the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic, there’s been a sharp increase in the demand for face masks. N95 Masks belong to a family of respirators that provide optimal efficiency in protecting you from a wide range of infectious diseases.

Although it’s growing in popularity, much is not known as regards the working mechanism of this mask. Questions are still frequently asked on how the mask shuts out tiny particles, amongst other things. This article looks to shed more light on some grey areas peculiar to the use of the N95 mask.

What does N95 stand for?

N95 is a combination of symbols that describe the level of effectiveness of the mask.

N: N is representative of the non-oil based feature of the mask. It merely means the mask can be used in an environment with no oil-based particulates. In essence, the N95 mask is quite useful when other particulate types are present in the environment.

95: This figure represents the level of effectiveness of the mask in filtering out minute particles. Particles that makeup contaminants include mist, dust and even fumes. N95 masks are capable of shutting out large particles as well, and this is why they are usually prescribed for use in polluted environments.

What material is used in the production of N95?

N95 masks are made from a combination of non-woven fabrics and thermal insulation cotton. These materials are guaranteed to give you optimal comfort while you have the mask on. Besides, the materials used in the production of the N95 masks means these masks are waterproof and are to preserve heat. These factors could prove quite pivotal on the long haul in the prevention of harmful contaminants. 

What is the filtering mechanism

Diffusion: The N95 mask makes use of a diffusion layer that keeps smaller particles from going through. The filter layer makes the particles move in random directions and eventually collide with one another. When this collision course continues, the particles stray from their original parts and lose momentum.

Inertial impaction: This filter is specifically designed to stop the larger particles from going through. This is achieved via the action of one the mask fibre layers that causes collision amongst the particles.

Electrostatic attraction: This layer is probably the most important as its the layer where most of the particles and virus strands get stuck. The fibres on this particular layer are given electric charge; these charges attract the particles and virus strands.

What are the qualities of a proper N95 mask

Proper fit: A quality face mask should fit well with your facial geometry without necessarily leaving gaps. Allowance for holes means the virus can sneak through and infect you.

Comfort: Even though the mask is meant to cover your nose and mouth, it should provide as much support as possible.

Final thought

N95 masks have become a hot commodity during the outbreak of coronavirus. You must have wondered what the fuss about this mask type is about; this article answers some compelling questions about t the reasons why people buy N95 mask.

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