As the world grapples to get control over the spread of COVID-19, the new normal urges everybody to adopt many safety measures that will limit transmission of the virus. Practices like physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands, and frequent hand sanitizer use are all measures to keep our communities and us safe.
As masks become the norm in public, many people want to know where to get masks, which masks to wear, and how to maintain them. People want to understand the most effective ways to stay safe in public. Many people want the most effective mask they can get to ensure their safety. That's why many people want N95 masks.
In this article, we will unpack what N95 masks are, when they're necessary, other types of masks that will do that job and where you can buy N95 masks in Canada.
Are masks effective against the COVID-19 virus?
Yes. According to the government of Canada's article on face coverings, they state that: "well-designed and well-fitting masks or face coverings can prevent the spread of your infectious respiratory droplets. They may also help protect you from the infectious respiratory droplets of others."
What kind of mask is recommended to prevent COVID-19 transmission?
It is essential to wear a mask when you are outside of your residence and around other people. There are several types of face masks outlined below, but Canada's government has recommendations on the guideline's masks should meet if you plan on wearing them to stop the transmission of COVID-19.
The guidelines include that face coverings should:
- Be three layers thick. The first two layers are tightly woven material such as linen or cotton. The third layer should be a type of filter such as a "non-woven polypropylene fabric."
- Fit securely to your head with ties or loops around your ears.
- Be changed as soon as possible if it becomes wet or damp.
- Be able to maintain its shape and structure after washing. Many homemade face masks should be hand washed with soap instead of a washer and drier. The heat can melt the elastics within the loops that go around your ear.
If you plan to make your face mask and would like the added protection of a filter, Canada's government has a guide on making your face covering with a filter.
What are N95 masks?
N95 masks are the primary masks used by medical staff and frontline workers to combat the spread of COVID-19. Like a regular medical mask, N95 masks have a bendable wire in the nose piece to make it more secure on the wearers' face, but they also offer further particle filtration.
N95 masks have a filter that protects the wearer from at least 95% of airborne particulates, including infectious agents like COVID-19, vapours, and gases. Additionally, they go through rigorous testing and evaluation by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the United States. For this reason, N95 masks are considered one of the most effective face masks.
Can you buy N95 masks in Canada?
There is a shortage of N95 masks in the U.S.
Yes, you can. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has led to a strain on supply chains. Because of this, there has been a shortage of N95 masks in the United States. The FDA has recommended that hospitals and other healthcare organizations implement conservation strategies.
The FDA "does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators".
You can still buy N95 masks in Canada.
Although there are resource constraints in the U.S., you can still find N95 masks in Canada. There are procedural N95 masks in a 20 pack in our online store. Additionally, our store also has KN95 masks.
KN95 masks vs N95 masks
The names of both KN95 and N95 masks are very similar and can confuse those looking to purchase one online. KN95 masks are procedural masks made to meet the official standard in China. In comparison, N95 masks meet standards set in the United States.
Most consumers are primarily concerned with how effective the masks are at stopping the transmission of COVID-19. Both KN95 and N95 masks must meet the filtration requirement of 95%, which is where the 95 in their names come from.
For a detailed comparison of both masks, see our article: KN95 Vs. N95 Masks: What's The Difference, And Which One Is Better?
The bottom line is that both masks must meet the same requirement, and it is reasonable to consider them of the same quality. You can find KN95 and N95 masks in our Canadian online store.
Can you reuse an N95 mask?
According to the CDC, N95 masks are single-use. But because of shortages due to the pandemic, the reuse of N95 masks may be necessary. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlined specific circumstances that employers should follow when deciding when necessary to reuse a mask.
The CDC outlines the following factors that influence a mask's durability.
- Filtration performance
- Contamination and soiling
If the mask is visibly damaged or has any bodily fluid such as blood, or nasal secretions, it should be throw out.
Can other disposable masks be sterilized and reused?
The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend that disposable masks only once. An example of disposable masks is medical masks. It is necessary to ensure that you know how to wear and remove your face masks properly.
Which type of mask do I need?
The objective behind all PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment is to stop the transmission of COVID-19. There are many different types of face coverings, masks, and face shields. To determine which one, you need it comes down to where you are and the requirements set by your local government or federal health administration.
The following categories can organize the different types of face PPE:
Masks are just one part of the new normal that we all have to accept as we try and combat the spread of COVID-19. Businesses can adopt additional safety measures like installing sneeze guards in their businesses, proper hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, and even air purifiers.
There are many new measures that businesses and individuals need to consider as we all work to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Masks like the N95 respirator effectively limit at least 95% of the particulars from coming in contact with the wearer. Although there are shortages of N95 masks in the United States due to supply chain constraints, you can still buy N95 masks in Canada.
Supply + Protect is an online marketplace where Canadian manufacturers and distributors of PPE/COVID-19 business solutions connect with Canadian businesses as they plan to re-open. We place a heavy emphasis on supporting Canadian manufacturing whenever possible.