The global coronavirus outbreak has taken the world by storm, affecting over 200 countries. One of the most frequently used items to counter the spread of the virus is face masks, especially N95 face masks. But did you know that there is a story behind the iconic masks? Continue reading below to find out.
Take note that this article is about the story behind the N95 mask that is a great icon in this time of pandemic. If you are looking to buy a mask for your personal use, you can find N95 and KN95 masks for sale at Pandemic Pal. Without further ado, let’s start:
The history of N95 masks
N95 mask was based on a mask design from a Chinese doctor named Lien-teh Wu. Dr Wu developed a mask to combat the 1910 Manchurian plague. This mask was effective in slowing down the Manchurian plague, and several iterations of Dr. Wu’s mask was used extensively through the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.
The N95 mask that we have today is based on the design of Dr. Wu. Scientists have invented gas masks throughout the entirety of the first and second world wars. These masks are made for the war effort, and not for protection against airborne contaminants. Nonetheless, these gas masks contain air filters that will protect against viruses and other contaminants. Identical masks packed with fiberglass filter systems were also being used in the mining sector in order to protect workers against black lung.
The gas masks with air filter ended up saving many lives. however it was problematic, and the filter system is a big reason for that. The fiberglass filter made it a lot harder to breathe, and the full head cover of the mask is too hot for an extended period of wearing. These problems eventually led to the invention of the light N95 mask that only covers the mouth and nose area, fully addressing the faults of the previous mask.
How does a modern N95 mask works?
N95 respirator masks used synthetic plastic fibers as filters. When viewed within a microscope, N95 mask filters have a lot of holes. However, the number of holes is not a problem with N95 masks because particles such as viruses will get stuck going through the multiple filters. The holes also present an advantage to the wearer – they make breathing easier and more comfortable.
The more time you use an N95 mask, the greater its efficiency will be on filtering particles. This is because there are fewer entryways into the mask as more particles get stuck in the holes. However, breathing will be harder as the holes become filled with particles. For this reason, a single N95 mask can only be used under 8 hours in a dusty condition. N95 masks are also not advised to be reused for the same reason, and also because the insides can get contaminated by taking the mask off and putting it on again.