Everything You Need to Know About NIOSH N95 Surgical Respirators

Everything You Need to Know About NIOSH N95 Surgical Respirators

In today’s world, where we are exposed to various pollutants and harmful particles, personal protective equipment (PPE) has become essential to maintain our health and well-being. Among the various types of PPE available, the NIOSH N95 surgical respirator is one of the most crucial tools for filtering out airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria. 

NIOSH N95 is a type of respirator mask that has been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the United States. In Canada, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is responsible for providing certification for respirator masks, including the N95 standard. The use of NIOSH n95 mask Canada is widely recommended in healthcare settings, as well as in other industries where workers are exposed to airborne particles. It is important to use a mask that has been certified by a reputable agency like NIOSH or the CCOHS to ensure maximum effectiveness.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about NIOSH N95 surgical respirators. We will elaborate on the workings of NIOSH N95 surgical respirators, explain how they differ from other mask varieties, and expound on their indispensability. Our objective is to provide an all-encompassing comprehension of the importance of NIOSH N95 masks to all individuals.

What is a NIOSH N95 Surgical Respirator?

 Face masks are designed to protect the wearer from airborne particles and aerosols. They are used in healthcare settings to protect healthcare workers from infectious diseases and are also recommended for use by the general public.

Here are some key facts you need to know about NIOSH N95 surgical respirators:

  • These masks are engineered to filter out a minimum of 95% of all airborne particles, viruses, and bacteria. 
  • They are crafted to establish an airtight seal around the face to prevent air leakage. 
  • These masks are to be used only once and then properly disposed of. 
  • Combining N95 masks with other infection control practices, including good hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing protocols, is paramount.

Now, let’s dive deeper into what you need to know about NIOSH N95 surgical respirators.

Understanding the Functioning of NIOSH N95 Surgical Respirators

The NIOSH N95 surgical respirators trap airborne particles and aerosols that may carry viruses, bacteria, or other harmful agents. These respirators comprise several layers of material that work in unison to catch particles when air flows through them.

The filter material in the NIOSH N95 surgical respirators is crucial for catching particles. It consists of electrostatically charged fibers that attract and confine particles. The filter material is constructed to block particles at least 0.3 microns in size, including most respiratory droplets that may contain viruses or bacteria.

Additionally, NIOSH N95 surgical respirators have a valve that allows for effortless exhalation and lessens heat build-up inside the mask. The valve is unavailable in all types of masks and distinguishes NIOSH N95 surgical respirators from other masks.

Distinguishing NIOSH N95 Surgical Respirators from Other Masks

NIOSH N95 surgical respirators are different from other masks in several ways. Here are some key differences:

  • Filtration efficiency: Compared to other mask variants, NIOSH N95 surgical respirators are engineered to have a higher filtration efficacy, with the capability to filter out a minimum of 95% of airborne particles.
  • Seal: NIOSH N95 surgical respirators are designed to create a secure seal around the face to prevent air leaks, distinguishing them from other types of masks that may not fit as tightly.
  • Valve: These respirators have a valve that allows for easy exhalation and reduces heat buildup inside the mask, while other types of masks may not offer this feature.
  • Single-use: They are intended for single-use and should be disposed of after each use, whereas other types of masks may be reusable.
  • Certification: NIOSH N95 surgical respirators are certified by a federal agency, NIOSH, to meet certain standards for filtration efficiency, breathability, and resistance to fluid penetration, while other types of masks may not be certified or regulated by any agency.

An alternate mask category commonly employed in healthcare premises is the Level 3 mask, formulated to afford a heightened tier of security compared to orthodox surgical masks. These masks are impervious to fluids and exhibit a minimum of 98% filtration efficiency. However, their particulate filtration efficiency pales in comparison to NIOSH N95 masks.

How Should NIOSH N95 Surgical Respirators Be Stored?

NIOSH N95 surgical respirators should be stored in a clean, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. The masks should be kept in their original packaging until they are ready to be used.

It is important to check the expiration date on the mask before using it, as the effectiveness of the filter material may decrease over time. Expired masks should not be used and should be discarded.

Effectiveness of NIOSH N95 Surgical Respirators

Studies have demonstrated that NIOSH N95 surgical respirators are remarkably productive in filtering air-borne particulates, including viruses and bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) avers that NIOSH N95 masks represent the most productive masks for curbing the spread of disorders.

It is germane to consider that NIOSH N95 masks must be meticulously tailored to achieve efficacy. An ill-fitting mask could allow deleterious particulates to infiltrate through interstices or cavities. To ensure the correct fit, medical professionals must undergo fitting trials before employing NIOSH N95 masks.

Proper usage of NIOSH N95 surgical respirators

Proper usage of NIOSH N95 surgical respirators involves several steps crucial to ensure the mask’s effectiveness in filtering out harmful airborne particles. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Perform hand hygiene: Before donning the mask, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to prevent contamination.
  2. Check the mask: Check the mask for any defects, such as tears or holes, and ensure that the elastic straps are intact.
  3. Position the mask: Hold it in place over your nose and mouth, with the nosepiece over the bridge of your nose. Use the elastic straps to secure the mask, ensuring it fits snugly but comfortably.
  4. Perform a fit check: With the mask on, perform a fit check by exhaling sharply. If air leaks out around the nose or edges of the mask, adjust the straps or reposition the mask until a proper seal is achieved.
  5. Avoid touching the mask: Once it is in place, avoid touching or adjusting it unnecessarily to prevent contamination.
  6. Perform hand hygiene: After removing the mask, perform hand hygiene again to prevent contamination.
  7. Dispose of the mask: Dispose of the mask properly after use. Follow local guidelines for the disposal of used masks.

By following these steps, you can ensure that NIOSH N95 surgical respirators provide maximum protection. Proper mask usage is crucial for the safety of healthcare workers and anyone who relies on PPE to safeguard their health.


In short, NIOSH N95 surgical respirators are a critical piece of PPE that can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in healthcare settings. They effectively filter out airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria. In Canada, these masks must meet CSA standards for respirators. However, they may be in short supply during high demand. Healthcare workers must undergo fit testing and training to use NIOSH N95 masks properly.