Aside from the surgical face mask, popular masks worn in Australia for the purpose of covid prevention are the P2 face mask, N95 face masks and KN95 face masks.
Face mask restrictions have eased but it seems this modern-day accessory isn’t going anywhere just yet. In a covid-dominated world, face masks have become an integral part of our everyday lives and for many a workplace requirement we can’t leave the home without. But despite its normality there’s increased confusion surrounding mask terminology which may leave you wondering if you need a medical degree to make the right choice.
Do you know how they differ in their efficiency against Omicron?
If you’re looking for a mask that does more than just match your outfit, here’s what you need to know.
What are they and what do they do?
Face masks attract a wealth of different terminologies including ‘Filtering Face-Piece Respirators’ (or FFP) and ‘Particulate Filter Respirators’ (or PFR). Both umbrella labels for a multitude of varying products branded with numerous letters and numbers.
The masks are made of multiple layers of synthetic material, designed to filter out particles which will minimise the spread of airborne contamination through the nose and mouth. They all serve the same purpose, to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
The main difference between products is their certification, or where in the world it is produced which determines which mandatory testing it has to fulfill to be eligible to go on the market.
P2 face mask
The Australian and New Zealand standard for Respiratory Protective Devices is called AS/NZS1716. Prior to becoming an everyday face mask worn by the public, it was most commonly used in the construction industry to minimise the inhalation of dust particles. Along with the N95 face masks, they’re also recommended by the government as the face mask of choice when exposed to smoke from bushfires. The ‘P’ rating relates to the particle size it filters, with the P2 face mask promising to filter at least 94% of airborne particles.
Other points of difference relate to what is measured when undergoing tests to meet certification mandates. Unlike the N95 face masks, the P2 face mask is required to conduct a ‘fit test’ in order to be certified and approved for sale. This is where the air inside and outside of the mask is tested, as well as measuring how well it fits to the face. The product must also fit within guidelines for ‘exhalation resistance’, which refers to the ease at which a user can breathe out. This means manufacturers must test the P2 face mask for carbon dioxide clearance to prevent build up from inside the respirator.
Juice Promotions stock the P2 face mask, and in a colour to suit every mood! Masks include the Tensil Auto Filtering Mask FFP2 and the Auto Filtering Mask FFP2 Color Tensil (available in Black, Blue, Grey or Pink).
N95 face masks
N95 face masks are the US equivalent of the P2 face mask, it’s an American/Canadian classified face mask certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH. The ‘N’ stands for ‘non-oil’, meaning it’s suitable for environments that do not contain oil particles, which makes them fine for the purpose of preventing or spreading covid. The number ‘95’ in the name refers to its efficiency rating – it removes 95% of 0.3 micron particles, compared to the P2 which removes 94%. The coronavirus is actually around 0.1 microns in size but is often attached to something larger.
Juice Promotions have a healthy stock of N95 face masks for both adults and kids. Adults have the choice of two types of mask, the TGA-approved N95 mask flat folded, or the TGA-approved N95 mask cup type. There are slight differences between the two as described on the website but essentially it comes down to personal preference.
KN95 face masks
KN95 face masks are certified by China and are the equivalent to N95 face masks and the P2 face mask. As the name suggests, they filter out 95% of 0.3 micron particles just like the N95 face masks. KN95 face masks are aesthetically quite different in that they allow a larger space between the mask and face, providing more breathing room. Like the P2 face mask, KN95 face masks must also undergo ‘fit testing’.
There’s a huge market for face masks with many poor-quality options and fake versions of authorised products like the N95 face masks, KN95 face masks and the P2 face mask. Make sure you buy your mask from a credible source. And whatever you decide to choose, the most important thing to remember is that they will only be effective in preventing and spreading covid if it fits your face properly.
Jane Whitelaw, Certified Occupational Hygienist and fellow of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) told ABC News that “if you put a respirator on and your glasses or sunglasses fog up, then that’s an example that it’s not fitting correctly”.
Juice Promotions stock KN95 face masks, feel free to contact them to find out more about the product.
The surgical face mask – how does this compare to the KN95, N95 and P2?
The surgical face mask is the blue disposable mask that was once mainly seen in a doctors or dental surgery. Their job is to protect the nose and mouth from large droplets and fluid and they come in three levels of resistance. Level one is acceptable for general patient care. Level two and three masks are preferred during procedures in which there is a risk of body fluid splash. A surgical mask can be worn for up to four hours as long as it is still functional, i.e. it doesn’t become moist or damaged.
Cloth face masks, surgical face masks, KN95 face masks, N95 face masks and the P2 face mask…
Still unsure which face mask to choose?
Essentially, the KN95, N95 and P2 are more effective at protecting yourself and others from the coronavirus due to the design. They fit better to the face which lessens the space for air droplets to exit/enter. Surgical face masks and cloth masks act more as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ but still provide better protection than not wearing a mask at all.
There is really no need to choose just one type of face mask. You could have a few different varieties depending on where you are and what you’re doing. You might have a stash of surgical face masks in the car that you can grab when you’ve forgotten your preferred P2 face mask. Or you might wear KN95 face masks for work and cloth masks for when you’re out and about.
Juice Promotions has an extensive range of face masks in stock. In addition to the N95 face masks, KN95 face masks and the P2 face mask, they have a range of TGA-approved surgical face masks and reusable cloth face masks to fit all budgets and tastes. Check out their products page to see the full range. For more information, free to contact their friendly team to enquire about products, obtain a quote or place an order: [email protected]