What’s the difference between a 3-ply mask, a surgical mask, and an N95 mask?

Contrary to claims, there have been many studies demonstrating the effectiveness of wearing a mask during a pandemic. Not all masks are created equal, though, and it is important to understand the differences. Pax Med’s 3-Ply Masks are three separate layers of nonwoven polypropylene fabric that have been crimped together in a machine. They are typically worn to block large particles in the air and have been found to provide limited protection against aerosolized and airborne germs. Pax Med Surgical Masks have two layers of nonwoven polypropylene and one layer of nonwoven meltblown filter fabric. The addition of meltblown fabric provides more protection against small particles than polypropylene alone. N95 masks consist of five layers of fabric that includes polypropylene and meltblown fabrics. They provide the most protection as they conform to the face and block 95% of tiny particles. Pax Med does not currently make N95 masks. For more information on these types of masks, visit the FDA’s website.

What kind of mask do I need?

No mask can provide 100% safety, especially if you have not been trained in its proper usage. This is a question only you can answer. There is a huge difference between popping into the grocery store, for instance, and needing a mask to work in a hospital. We cannot give medical advice and recommend that you speak to your doctor or contact your local health authorities if you have any questions or need additional information. 

Are there resources out there for anyone who is interested in learning more about what kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and how these products can protect people?

Information is widely available from official health authorities as well as universities on this subject. For more information on this, visit the FDA’s “Questions About Personal Protective Equipment” page located here.

Can you recommend any other resources out there for information on PPE, including masks?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has extensive information on face masks, which can be found here.  

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