Last Updated on February 28, 2020
In uncertain times, many people are gathering the things they need in the event of an emergency. Food, water, and shelter are usually at the forefront of everyone’s minds; however, other safety and precautionary equipment are often overlooked, like items to reduce the impact of chemicals threats and attacks. N95 masks, and chemical odor masks like the FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask, are just one of these things that are essential to have in an emergency pack.
What is an N95 Mask?
An N95 mask is a specially designed mask that is worn on the face, covering the nose and mouth to protect against potentially harmful airborne particles. It is sometimes referred to as a respirator. N95 means that the mask will filter at least 95% of particles that are at least 0.3 microns in size.
Can I Just Use a Surgical or Dust Mask?
While a surgical mask looks very similar to an N95 mask, it most definitely does not do the same thing. Do not get a surgical mask thinking you are fully protected from a harmful environment, as it does not work like that. Surgical masks are usually worn by doctors and surgeons to protect their patients from their germs. N95 masks work the opposite way by keeping potential surrounding bacteria and other harmful elements away from one’s respiratory system. There are also surgical N95 masks available. This works both ways by protecting the user against outside germs and prevents the spread of their own. Surgical N95 masks get the seal of approval from both NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and the FDA.
Dust masks are also popular and found in most hardware stores. While they protect the wearer from the outside elements, they are not NIOSH approved and do not protect against harmful vapors and gases.
The Importance of Face Mask Ratings and Certifications
It is crucial that face masks are rated appropriately to guarantee the level of protection you will receive. Do not buy any mask that has not been approved by NIOSH or does not meet the European Standard. N95 is just one of the several ratings you can find on NIOSH-approved masks but is the most common. You are more likely to see N95 masks at your local hardware store or online. The NIOSH ratings are explained as follows:
Masks not resistant to oil:
N95 – Filters at least 95% of airborne particles.
N99 – Filters at least 99% of airborne particles.
N100 – Filters at least 99.7% of airborne particles.
Masks partially resistant to oil:
R95 – Filters at least 95% of airborne particles.
Masks that are very resistant to oil:
P95 – Will filter at least 95% of airborne particles.
N99 – Another type of the N99 that will filter at least 99% of particles but is resistant to oil.
N100 – Another type of the N100 that will filter at least 99.7% of particles but is resistant to oil.
As previously mentioned, face masks can also be at European Standard EN-149 and are slightly different to NIOSH ratings. The three main levels of EN-149 are:
P1 EN-149 – Will filter out at least 80% of particles.
P2 EN-149 – Will filter out at least 94% of particles.
P3 EN-149 – Filters 99.5% of particles.
You will be able to find these ratings right on the front of the mask towards the bottom of the model if it is NIOSH approved. It will also have the company, model, and lot numbers evident.
Does the Rating Make Any Difference?
It is not worth buying a cheap mask under any circumstance. Inexpensive masks will not give you the specific level of protection necessary and will end up being a waste of money. Studies have shown this to be true – testing out NIOSH approved masks against cheap surgical ones. The results are astounding, with a significant difference in the level of protection. NIOSH and CDC came to the following conclusions:
It is evident that some unregulated masks will hardly do anything while others can offer a lot regarding protection. However, this level of security is utterly uncertain without a NIOSH or European Standard rating. Therefore, it is always recommended that you guarantee your safety with an approved face mask, like FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask.
How Efficient are N95 Masks?
With many face masks, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to levels of protection, so the answer here differs depending on the situation. As mentioned before, N95 masks offer at least 95% protection against particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger. This chart will help put it into perspective:
1-inch = 25,400 microns
Since N95 masks can handle particles 0.3 microns in size or more, it is pretty obvious that it is a good choice for most incidents.
N95 face masks have been shown to help reduce the spread of viruses too, despite the size often being less than 0.3 microns. If you are around someone who is suffering from an infection, it can help. However, if there is a viral outbreak going on, you will need to do more than rely on the face mask.
Will N95 Masks Help Against Chemical Attacks?
There are a lot of chemicals that the standard N95 mask would be able to help with, although using one is better than no protection at all. For protection against particulates, chemical and gas odors, go with the FAST-ACT’s VapourKlenz Face Mask. The VapourKlenz Face Mask works by using FAST-ACT technology to neutralize chemical odors. FAST-ACT technology is also proven to aid against the thousands of chemicals found in smoke, such as in the event of a wildfire, and even chemical attacks like mustard gas. It does this by using metal oxides rather than zeolites or carbon to help filter particles.
A Mask is Only as Effective as the Fit
If a mask does not fit correctly, then you may not be wearing one at all. N95 masks are only effective if they are correctly fitted around the head.
N95 masks are ideal for adults. Children will need specially made masks. N95 masks are also not recommended for those with facial hair since it can prevent a proper seal from forming, allowing for particles to get in. Depending on the model, there is often one or two stretchy straps that go over the head. They can usually be tightened for a better fit. If you find it still too loose, then you might need a different make.
There are a few checks you can do to ensure a good fit, and you will want to do these before an emergency should occur. Never wait until an incident occurs where you will need the mask only to find out it doesn’t fit. First, put both hands over the mask and take a big breath in. The mask should collapse towards the face without any air leaking out. Then breathe out and try to feel for any air escaping. If your mask has an exhalation valve, you will need to cover this first. If you can feel air leaking, then this may not be the right size/model for you. Go for a face mask that has a metal nose piece like the FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask, because this can be bent to provide the perfect fit over the nose.
Are Face Masks Worth It?
You can never be too prepared in the event of a disaster. With all that the FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Masks can do, everyone should have one in the emergency kits. They’re lightweight, inexpensive, and can be invaluable in times of emergency.
When choosing your air purifying respirator masks, go for one that is made with high-quality materials from a company that has experience in protecting against chemical and toxic threats. FAST-ACT has been a trusted name in the CBRN and Deconn. market in protecting against chemical threats, specializing in chemical hazard containment and neutralization systems for liquid and vapor threats. The VapourKlenz Face Mask is just one of the many products designed with patented neutralization technology to keep harmful particles out with a comfortable seal that can be adjusted, fitting most adults with no problem. It is compact and easy to store anywhere, including as part of your emergency pack. To find out more about the FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask, visit our page and order yours today.
Bio – As survivalists and a community that likes to be prepared for all circumstances, the threat of chemical vapors, releases, and attacks are some of the most serious as they pose an immediate threat to life. FAST-ACT was developed for that purpose, FAST deployment, with a minimal logistical burden, and broad-spectrum effectiveness to ACT upon the chemical threat.