N95 and PM2.5 Masks
The difference is very easy to describe:
- N95 is the rating given to a mask that can filter out 95% of PM2.5 such as dust, pollen, pollution, viruses and particulates in the air.
- PM2.5 describes the size of the fine particulate matter that people are concerned about. These tiny particles could be pollution, smoke or airborne virals.
So an N95 mask or filter will remove 95% of the PM2.5 particles that flow through the mask or filter. It can also be surmised that an N95 mask will have an N95 filter as the N95 designation refers to the filtration efficacy.
PM2.5 refers to a particle that has a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers. A particle of this size is 100 times thinner than a human hair and can remain suspended and floating much longer in the air due to its size. These particles are formed from a wide variety of ways such as a result of burning gasoline such as fossil fuel engines, chemical reactions both human made and naturally occurring within our atmosphere as well as biological organisms and viruses.
The "N" stands for "Not Resistant" to oil and the "95" refers to the filtration efficiency of about 95%. It can filter out pollutants in this high percentage.
Tell Me More About PM2.5
PM2.5 is the acronym given to tiny particles in the air. PM2.5 is the actual measure of these tiny particles that have a a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers. We can sometimes see them in them in the air that were refer to as pollution in our major cities that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated. PM2.5 particles can stay suspended in the air for a very long time and lead to deposits in your nose, throat, lungs or even the arteries if they are small enough and make it into your lungs. So when people say it’s a PM2.5 mask, it refers to the filtration efficacy that a particular mask can filter out and prevent these tiny particles from entering your body.
The number in this mask refers to the percentage of polluted PM2.5 that the mask can filter out so it is a N95 mask, or filter, removes 95% of dust and particulates passing through it. There are also N99 masks that will filter out PM2.5 particles to a greater degree but they come at a higher breathing resistance meaning, because of the 99% efficacy of the mask (or filter), it will also slow down the flow of air because of the mechanics of the filter. N95 masks (filters) are very efficient at blending a balance between air flow and particle removal and are also used for athletic activities that rely on a steady flow of fresh oxygen to your body. The N95 masks offer about a 50% lower breathing resistance than N99 masks so it can have a dramatic impact on air intake if you need to do some strenuous activity.
What Are PM2.5 Made From?
PM 2.5 consists of dust, pollution, spores, viruses, smoke and pollen in the air and refers to particles that have a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers which is more than 100 times thinner than a human hair and remain suspended and floating longer in the air. These particles are formed as a result of burning fuel, forest fires, chemical reactions that take place in the atmosphere, pollen, industry, natural earth emissions such as sulfur, CO2 and methane, although in smaller amounts. The fact is, PM2.5 are all around us and having an effective respirator is critical.
Can a N95 Mask Protect Me From PM 2.5?
The N95 and N99 masks both could block 95% and 99% of PM2.5 particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter. PM2.5 particles are a complex combination of pollutants as dust, pollen, smoke, and mist. These particles are said to be dangerous as well.
Why are PM 2.5 Particles Harmful?
PM 2.5 particulate matters harmful as these tiny particulate matters are so small, light and very fine in their composition. They have the ability to stay longer in the air as compared to the heavier particles given their very low mass allowing them to stay airborne longer. These particles become dangerous to humans when they are smaller than 2.5 micrometers and easily enter the human body through. mostly through the nose and throat, and penetrate deeply into the lungs. It is even more harmful if some of these particles actually enter the circulatory system. This is all possible because of the tiny size of these particles which is where the PM2.5 acronym comes from; particles that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers.
There are additional issues associated with the interaction with PM2.5 particles with both short terms and long term health impacts. The short term affects might include irritation in the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath. The serious issues associated with PM2.5 particulate matter is the prolonged exposure to these micro particles that can cause permanent respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and even heart disease in some cases. It is also contingent on specifically what particles are inhaled which is going to have a major determinant in any short term and long term damage. Asbestos is one of the most well known particles that have caused serious health issues. In addition, it is important to note that the elderly and children can be the most sensitive to it PM2.5 particulate matter.
It is critical to protect yourself where you are being exposed to these tiny particles. These particles include ones found in pollution, pollen and even some free floating molecules from the atmosphere. The Earth's air is becoming more and more polluted and use of some kind of respirator is important to help you stay healthy.