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The untold origin story of the N95 mask

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https://www.fastcompany.com/90479846/the-untold-origin-story-of-the-n95-mask

fastcompany.com

The untold origin story of the N95 mask
It's hard to think of a symbol of COVID-19 more fraught than the N95 respirator. The mask fits tightly around the face and is capable of filtering 95% of airborne particles, such as viruses, from the air, which other protective equipment (such as surgical masks) can't do.

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The mask

The mask - a flimsy polymer cup - fits tightly around the face and is capable of filtering 95% of airborne particles, such as viruses, from the air.

The firsts masks were ...

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Surgical masks

Surgical masks

Doctors started wearing the first surgical masks in 1897. The masks were not designed to prevent airborne disease - that is still not the case today - but to prevent doctors from coughing or sneezi...

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The first modern respirator

The first modern respirator

During 1920, a plague broke out between a shared jurisdiction of China and Russia. The Chinese Imperial Court brought in a young doctor named Lien-teh Wu that determined that the plague was not ...

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The modern mask

  • At first, the masks wrapped around your entire head to clean the air supply.
  • Similar masks, loaded with fiberglass filter, began to be used in the mining industry to prevent black l...

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How the N95 respirator works

How the N95 respirator works

Instead of fiberglass, single-use respirators are made from melted polymer and air-blasted into layers of tiny fibers with bigger spaces between them.

As particles fly into this maze of fib...

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Protection By Face Masks

Due to the Wuhan virus spreading across the world, the use of face masks might seem a good means of protection.

The N95 mask, which is a heavy-duty mask offers better protection (95% of air...

Protect Yourself Wisely

  • Cloth masks, which are reusable and washable, offer no real protection while being potentially harmful in case there is any moisture retention or dirt in them due to their being reused.
  • It is a good practice to wear a mask all the time, especially if you have any respiratory illness.
  • It is advisable to be careful while removing your mask, as a mere touch of your hands on the front of the mask can contaminate it.
  • It is also advisable not to touch your face or nose too much.
  • Constantly and frequently wash your hands, all year round, and get a flu shot, as it is flu season. While a flu shot is not a protection against the virus, it is still advisable to get one.

A common effort

As the global spread of the virus accelerates, this sort of do-it-yourself response to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is becoming very common, with medical researchers, busines...

Safety of homemade devices

So far, the evidence is insufficient and mixed; there are a few ideas that show promise,  but there is also some concern that improvised measures could make things worse.
The last thing you want is for healthcare workers to have a false sense of protection and perform a risky procedure on a patient.

Making masks

The medical opinion on homemade masks is mixed. None of the everyday materials you could use to make masks work as well as a commercial surgical mask, but the homemade versions do prevent some microbes from getting through, suggesting these substitute masks are better than nothing at all: they could theoretically slow the spread of disease by helping keep the virus from escaping people’s noses and mouths.

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Effectiveness of face masks

Effectiveness of face masks

At the beginning of the current outbreak, there were a lot of assurances from the media, governments and medical organizations that face masks are ineffective and could potentially increase our ris...

Face masks and viruses

According to research, face masks (surgical and N95) were the most consistently effective way of reducing the transmission of viruses similar to the new one, if worn properly and consistently.
Consistently wearing a mask in public was associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of catching such viruses in Beijing.

Fighting the flu

Studies concerning the flu are more in line with current advice about prioritizing hand washing.
Studies about face masks being helpful are somewhat inconsistent.

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