Surgical Mask, Procedure Mask, and Earloop Mask have a variety of different levels. American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) surgical face mask comes in three different levels with varying filtration characteristics. Surgical face mask provides an added layer of protection against airborne particles. Each level has its own corresponding fluid resistance rate, bacterial filtration efficiency, breathability, and flame spread class. Masks classified in this category can be used in a wide range of situations depending on the ASTM level. Surgical masks can be used as simple physical barriers to being used in surgical procedures. Other masks categories in this group include medical masks, disposable face masks, and dust masks.
Face masks comes in six different levels of filtration and protection. The order goes as follows; Minimum Protection, Low Protection, ASTM Level 1, ASTME Level 2, ASTM Level 3, and Maximum Protection. ASTM stands for the American Society for Testing and Materials which is an international standards organization that grade technical standards of materials, products, services, systems, and other items.
Minimum protection mask provides a physical barrier only. Often made of tissue or thin cloth material, minimum protection mask does not provide a specific filtration efficiency. Minimum protection mask is only used as a physical barrier and does not protect against large or small airborne particles.
Low protection masks are moulded utility masks that provide a physical barrier. These masks fit better than the minimum protection mask but do not provide a specific filtration efficiency. Like the minimum protection masks, low protection masks are not ASTM certified and are not specifically effective in protecting against large or small protection.
ASTM Level 1, 2, and 3 masks are ASTM certified and provide a certain percentage of filtration and protection characteristics based on the rating.
ASTM Level 1 masks provide a low level of fluid resistance at 80 mmHg. ASTM Level 1 mask have a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of ≥ 95% and a Particle Filtration Efficiency (PFE) of ≥95% at 0.1 microns. The breathability of these masks is < 4.0 mm H20/cm2.
ASTM Level 2 masks provide a moderate fluid resistance of 120 mmHg. ASTM Level 2 has a BFE of ≥ 98% and a PFE of ≥98% at 0.1 microns. The breathability of these masks is < 5.0 mm H2O/cm2.
ASTM Level 3 masks provide the highest level of protection out of the three ASTM levels. ASTM Level 3 masks provide a high fluid resistance of 160 mmHg. ASTM Level 3 has a BFE of ≥ 98% and a PFE of ≥98% at 0.1 microns. The breathability of these masks is < 5.0 mm H2O/cm2.
The last level of surgical masks provides maximum filtration protection and consist of NIOSH approved N95 Respirators. This level of mask has high fluid resistance at 160 mmHg. The maximum protection mask has a PFE = 99.9% at 0.1 microns. The breathability in this level is > 5.0 mm H2O/cm2. A maximum protection mask provides the ultimate protection against very small airborne particles.
Surgical Mask Lifespan
Surgical masks are meant to be a one-time use product. Once the mask is contaminated with fluids or airborne particles, the mask should be disposed of properly. A surgical mask should also be disposed of the moment breathing through the mask becomes difficult. To safely dispose of a surgical mask, take off the mask without touching the outer or inner layer. Place the mask in a plastic bag and put it in the garbage for proper disposal. Once completed, wash and clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water. For more information please search Surgical Mask Canada, Procedure Mask Canada, or Earloop Mask Canada for general specifications for the different types of masks.
How it Should Look Like
A surgical mask should have a dark and light side. The light side is often the inner side while the dark side should be facing outward. The outer side of the mask should have flaps folding downward, while the inner side should be folded upward.
How to Wear a Surgical Mask
- Wash your hands before wearing the mask.
- Hold the ear cord with both hands, with a dark side facing outwards (blue) and light side facing inwards (soft white)
- Place the side of the mask with the wire (Small adjustable wire) on the nose.
- Pinch the wire to your nose shape, and then pull the mask down to cover the mouth and nose completely.
- Disposable masks are usually replaced every 4 hours and cannot be reused.