What is a surgical N95 respirator?


Quick Answer

A surgical N95 respirator is an N95-type respirator that has been approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and cleared by the FDA for use as a surgical mask, states the Centers for Disease Control. N95 respirators are capable of filtering up to 95 percent of airborne droplets. The "N" designates that the mask is not resistant to degradation caused by oil.

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Full Answer

Standard surgical masks do not afford medical personnel with sufficient protection from the inhalation of some particulates, reports the CDC. In addition, no surgical mask can filter every type of airborne particulate and the appropriate mask depends on the procedure being performed. A surgical N95 mask helps to protect medical staff from inhaling relatively fine particulates that are potentially contaminated with dangerous organisms, such as the viruses that cause tuberculosis or SARS.

Regulatory agencies help ensure that masks marketed as surgical N95 masks are suitable for this task, reports the CDC. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is responsible for certifying surgical masks and respirators for occupational uses under Title 42, Part 84, of the Code of Federal Regulations, while the FDA regulates medical devices intended for use in preventing and treating disease, including surgical masks and surgical N95 respirators, under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

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