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#172475 - 04/30/09 12:54 PM N95 masks
Russ Online   content
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5099
Loc: SOCAL
As regards N95 masks and influenza, a number of folks in the Flu Thread have indicated they don't work or don't give a good seal -- whatever. I've seen a number of news photos of folks wearing their masks with their nostrils exposed. What's the point of wearing a mask if you leave your breathing holes on the outside? Maybe they don't breathe through their noses.

The isolation masks we have here (99% EFF at .1 Microns) can be shaped around the bridge of your nose and they provide a good fit.

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#172483 - 04/30/09 01:59 PM Re: N95 masks [Re: ]
Wheels Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/19/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Central Virginia
I'm no expert on this but, as I understand it, any sort of regular dust mask is really only effective to the extent that it prevents the wearer from touching their own mouth and nose. A mask plus glasses or goggles would be the complete package to keep you from picking up the virus and infecting yourself with it.

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#172485 - 04/30/09 02:17 PM Re: N95 masks [Re: Wheels]
Russ Online   content
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5099
Loc: SOCAL
That could be true, virus' are pretty small critters and can get through some fairly small gaps when motivated. That said, when I wore these masks during the last wildfire here (SOCAL) it cleaned up the air a lot. As I understand the H1N1 virus is dependent on droplets and isn't "in the air". The mask will stop you from inhaling those droplets. . . maybe, I think, not sure but it won't hurt.

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#172491 - 04/30/09 02:56 PM Re: N95 masks [Re: ]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
...too sciency...

"Sciency"? There you go again, Izzy, using all those big words again! wink

But seriously, we're all here to share and learn, so don't sweat it. I appreciate your many contributions.

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#172506 - 04/30/09 06:37 PM Re: N95 masks [Re: ]
Greg_Sackett Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/14/01
Posts: 225
Loc: KC, MO
In the workplace, N95 masks are required to be fit tested just like any other respirator. Facial hair and face shape can make that difficult or impossible, so an N95 will not work for everyone.

That said, N95s or Pappers are what all of our hospital staff use in isolation areas.

Greg

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#172507 - 04/30/09 06:37 PM Re: N95 masks [Re: Russ]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Originally Posted By: Russ
As regards N95 masks and influenza, a number of folks in the Flu Thread have indicated they don't work or don't give a good seal -- whatever. I've seen a number of news photos of folks wearing their masks with their nostrils exposed. What's the point of wearing a mask if you leave your breathing holes on the outside? Maybe they don't breathe through their noses.

The isolation masks we have here (99% EFF at .1 Microns) can be shaped around the bridge of your nose and they provide a good fit.


The N95 masks we use at work (3M) also come with an adjustable noseclip. I've seen the same model available in hardware stores and it works well for what it does. If adjusted properly the seal is pretty tight. The fit should be identical to your N99 masks, though of course the N95 standard offers somewhat inferior protection.

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#172516 - 04/30/09 09:05 PM Re: N95 masks [Re: ]
Russ Online   content
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5099
Loc: SOCAL
I like them as they are, cheap and they pack flat. We have them in bags and vehicles just in case. So far I've only needed them for wildfire smoke (probably way overkill) and so far haven't seen a need to wear them for the phase 5 influenza pandemic alert.

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#172521 - 04/30/09 09:46 PM Re: N95 masks [Re: Russ]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Russ
So far I've only needed them for wildfire smoke (probably way overkill)...

N95's are not overkill for wildfire smoke. The tiniest soot particles from a hot wildfire are so small that they can evade your body's normal airway defenses and get down deep into your lungs, which is bad for you. A dust mask or bandana won't filter out these tiniest particles, but an N95 can. This is a separate problem from any sort of fumes a wildfire can generate from combustion, like carbon monoxide.

Actually, even when the skies clear after the fire, the air can still be loaded with these tiniest of soot particles. The air looks clear because the particles are so small that they don't block the light like larger soot/ash particles do. The only way to know if these smallest particles are around is to check an official air quality report and look at the PM2.5 and PM10 levels (well, or you may be able to "feel it" in your lungs). Since they are so small, they can stay suspended in the air for a while unless there's a breeze to blow them away.

I have a couple boxes of N95's at home (purchased from fellow ETSer Red Flare, too!), not for pandemics, but for wildfires. A big wildfire was upwind of me and poured smoke down on us for almost a week, and I only had two N95's to get me through that week. By day 6, I had to go see a doctor because I was having trouble breathing from all the irritation from the particulates even though I had tried to stay indoors pretty much continuously during that week. I even wore the N95 indoors during the day, but not when I slept, which is probably when my lungs would get irritated. The PM2.5 and PM10 levels stayed sky high for maybe 10-14 days even though the skies had been clear after day 6 or so.

Actually, if you haven't already read it, Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials, is a very readable source of information.

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#172531 - 05/01/09 01:31 AM Re: N95 masks [Re: Arney]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
OK, OK, I've tried to avoid the ensuing over-panic about "swine flu."

From my school's dean, a pulmonologist:
Masks over the healthy do NOTHING. Viruses are small enough to pass through the pores. Since you need to touch the virus on a surface, or breath it in, just wash your hands.

Masks over the SICK make sense: the virus is in the droplets that they sneeze and cough up. Block the drops, you keep it better contained.

Remember, N95 masks block Tuberculosis - still way, way bigger than a virus!

Various news bulletins from the FD I volly for suggest this is still not much of a "panic" bug. Really, the death toll from regular old flu is 36K annually in the US. This is, what, 1 in the US to date? Does it have the potential to reach 1918 levels? Maybe... but we have Tamiflu which helps decrease duration of disease, as well as symptoms.

As one of the CDC officials pointed out, the reason we're "seeing" more cases as the days go on is that we're now testing folks for it. By looking for something, we're finding it. That doesn't mean we haven't had swine flu in the US before, it's just that we didn't look for it. The normal "flu" swabs that most docs use just test "a" or "b" strains. Swine flue is still in the "a" category, so it's entirely possible we've been treating it like any other strain.

Personally, I'm not worried just yet, until the death toll starts to get higher (in proportion to number of sick). Avian flu/SARS seemed a much bigger threat.

Edit: Having said all this, the EMS guidelines I'm seeing currently are recommending N95 masks, gloves, gown, eyes for CONFIRMED cases only. Otherwise, suspected cases are still OK with gloves, eye shields, and surgical mask only if close contact is anticipated during procedures. Then just wash hands before and after.
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/masks.htm


Edited by MDinana (05/01/09 01:56 AM)

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#172535 - 05/01/09 03:46 AM Re: N95 masks [Re: MDinana]
ratbert42 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/31/06
Posts: 178
Loc: Florida
Just wanted to add that the N95, R95 and P95 are the same level of filtering. The letters only specify how resistant to oil the filters are (N=not oil-resistant, R=oil-resistant, P=oil-proof). So as far as pandemic flu is concerned, they all provide the same level of protection. (Whatever level that might be is up for debate.)

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