Surgical masks, also known as procedure masks, are intended to help put a barrier between the wearer and the work environment or sterile field. They may help keep spit and mucous generated by the wearer from reaching a patient or medical equipment.They can also be used as a fluid barrier to help keep blood splatter from reaching the wearer’s mouth and nose.
However, if a wearer wants to reduce inhalation of smaller, inhalable particles (those smaller than 100 microns), they need to obtain and properly use a government-certified respirator, such as a NIOSH-certified N95 filtering facepiece particulate respirator. If the wearer needs a combination surgical/procedure mask and a particulate respirator, they should use a product that is both cleared by FDA as a surgical/procedure mask and tested and certified by NIOSH as a particulate respirator. Such products are sometimes called a “medical respirator,” “health care respirator,” or “surgical N95.”
Here are some considerations when selecting between Respirators and Surgical/Procedure Masks.
To learn more details about Respirators and Surgical Masks, please read 3M’s Technical Bulletin: Respirators and Surgical Masks: A Comparison