Not All N95 Masks Can Protect Against COVID-19
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Please note: N95 respirators with a built-in exhalation valve are not allowed for in-office appointments at our practice. If you have further questions, please contact our our office at 415-379-9600 option 2 .
“Coronavirus: Officials warn some N95 masks not effective against spread
Aidin Vaziri_ April 17, 2020 Updated: April 17, 2020 7:22 p.m.
Bay Area health care professionals are warning residents who stockpiled disposable N95 respirators during the wildfires that not all face masks are created equal when it comes to slowing the transmission of the coronavirus.
While standard N95 respirators, when worn properly, can reduce the wearer’s exposure to 95% of airborne particles and protect those around them from potentially infected coughs, sneezes and other respiratory droplets; N95 respirators with a built-in exhalation valve — or one-way vent — pose a potentially serious issue.
While these types of masks protect the wearer, they do not protect others from a potentially infected cough or sneeze due to their ability to release large respiratory droplets into the air.
“Given that most of the value of these masks is not to protect the wearer but to protect others from a potentially contagious asymptomatic wearer, those one-way valves make the masks practically useless for protecting others,” said Dr. Matthew L. Springer, a cardiologist at UCSF. “So all those potentially contagious people are spewing unfettered large respiratory droplets, probably even in a concentrated stream going through the valves.”
The exhalation valve in the N95 respirators is designed to ease exhalation and decrease humidity, heat and moisture inside the mask.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is most commonly transmitted person-to-person through respiratory droplets, such as when someone sneezes or coughs. A study done by the National Institutes of Health indicates that infected droplets can remain suspended in the air for up to three hours; and transmitted at least 13 feet by aerosols that are emitted by breathing or speaking, based on a report by the CDC.”
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