Surgical Mask vs. N95 Mask: Which One Is Best For Ash Protection?

Surgical Mask vs. N95 Mask: Which One Is Best For Ash Protection?

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Knowing the difference between a surgical mask and an N95 one seems like a no biggie, but plot twist: it actually does and it’s for no mere reason at all. Sure, both cover the mouth area just fine, but the way these 2 are designed depends on its intended use. In fact, equipping yourself with the right gear is just the 1st step!

Prevention won’t be better than cure if you’re not preventing the right way. Without further ado, here’s a comparison of a surgical mask and an N95 Respirator.

Surgical Mask

You might wear this when outdoors, commuting, or riding a motorcycle, but the surgical masks are actually made for operating room purposes— specifically, liquid-related dripping scenarios that involve fluids and blood. This also prevents the wearer from exposing their own contaminants to others.

In addition, wearing a surgical mask can shield you from microorganisms.

N95 Respirator


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As the name suggests, an N95 is designed for respiratory protection as well as a shield against airborne contaminants. This is because of how the mask is made— it fits exactly to the mouth so it guards the area just right while filters the aforementioned dangers. Just be sure to get the right size for you or else, it would reduce its purpose.

Aside from that, you can also wear this mask as a safety measure when exposed to ashes, particularly from volcanoes.

The ashes that volcanoes emit are extremely harmful and poisonous to the body since it contains chemicals such as carbon dioxide, sulfates, hydrochloric acid, and hydroflouric acid. Being exposed could harm the respiratory and/or the visual system.

Source: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/health/index.html

And those are just the short-term effects.

One of the long-term effects is a disease called Silicosis, a disease leading to lung impairment and scarring.

In the event that an N95 Respirator is unavailable, just add 2 sheets of tissue inside a surgical mask. It will increase the filtering efficiency for up to 90%.

Moreover, here are other types of face masks along with their effectiveness at ash protection:

Simple Healthcare Mask

Scooter Mask

Cloth Material

Photo Source: IVHHN

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