There are dozens upon dozens of different allergy and viral masks on the market.
The basic goal of a mask is to use filtration or other shielding materials to block pollutants and particles from entering your respiratory system.
At the same time, masks can act as a two-way blocker to keep contaminants and germs from your body from entering the air.
One of the most important things in any medical setting, but particularly in surgical settings, is having a sanitized space.
The risk of infection and illness is greatly heightened when foreign contaminants are introduced to surgery sites.
When an individual undergoes surgery, the site must be as clean as possible to keep the wounds from becoming infected.
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There are multiple procedures that surgeons follow to make sure that their operating rooms are clean. Every professional who enters the operating room must be wearing clean clothing and have clean hands.
All the medical tools and instruments inside the room must be sterilized and cleaned as well. Throughout the procedure, measures must be taken to ensure that the site remains sterile.
One of the most important regulations is that medical professionals must wear face masks when in an operating room.
In addition, the masks must meet certain filtration standards and testing guidelines. A surgical mask needs to be effective enough to keep particles from a person’s respiration from being released into the room.
At the same time, it needs to be sealed enough that potential contaminants from the patient’s body can’t harm the medical professionals in turn.
The Protection Standards for Surgical Masks
Surgical masks have protection standards that are regulated by the FDA. The organization that sets the standards is called ASTM, or the American Society of Testing and Materials.
This international organization is responsible for developing and publishing technical standards regarding multiple different services, systems, products, and materials.
Healthcare products and standards are just one area covered.
It’s important for medical practitioners to be aware of how their face masks work and how long they’re effective for.
The majority of surgical masks are intended to be used only once in the operating room, and then to be discarded.
The mask’s filtration system and its ability to protect from particles is damaged if the mask becomes torn, wet, or unsealed.
When you’re evaluating ASTM standards, masks with higher protection values tend to maintain filtration for longer periods of time.
With that said, there aren’t any published standards regarding the length of time that any mask should be used.
This information varies depending on the person’s respiration rate, the amount of talking they do, any nasal discharge they have, and the humidity levels in the room.
There are five different mask components that the ASTM evaluates and rates.
The first is bacterial filtration efficiency. This is a measurement of a mask’s ability to filter out bacterial agents. To qualify as a moderate or high protection mask, the mask must meet a minimum filtration rate of 98 percent.
A mask cannot qualify as a surgical-grade product if it does not have a 95 percent filtration rate at the least.
The second component is particulate filtration efficiency. This is a measurement of how well masks filter out much smaller particles.
The third is fluid resistance. Over time, it’s possible that moisture will build up on a mask’s material due to a person’s respiration and speech. If the fluid leaks through the mask’s layers and is released into the air, it causes a contamination.
The fourth component is called Delta P, otherwise known as a pressure differential. This test takes a measurement of the air flow channels in the mask.
A good mask must have an adequate level of breathability, which means that fresh air is easily introduced.
At the same time, it can’t be perforated enough to risk letting contaminants escape. High barrier and moderate masks need to have a measurement of under 5.0, and low barrier masks need a measurement of less than 4.0.
The last component is flammability. All masks are tested for flame resistance, especially since medical practices are full of flammable objects.
#1. 3M 1860 Medical Mask
This is one of many mask offerings from 3M, a company that’s known for creating filtration systems and sterile medical supplies.
The pack comes with twenty masks, each of which should be used once during an operating room procedure and then discarded.
Unlike the more papery rectangular masks, these masks have a round and structured shape to them. On the inside is a moldable piece of metal that can conform to the bridge of your nose.
By shaping this piece of metal to your face, you’ll create a customized fit and seal air in so that you don’t accidentally contaminate the operating room.
One of the selling points of these masks is that they’re N95 respirator certified. That means that the filtration mechanism is capable of filtering out at least 95 percent of the particles in the air.
It’s a good way of keeping an operating room sterile, and of making sure that a surgeon doesn’t inhale any potentially harmful substances from the patient’s body.
Like most surgical masks, this mask design secures behind the ears with ear loops.
#2. Dynarex 2201 Surgical Face Masks
Dynarex is a leading industry creator of sanitary products and medical equipment. Each of the masks in this box of fifty is meant for a single use in the operating room.
It should be discarded immediately afterward. The masks have all been sterilized, and the construction doesn’t include any natural rubber latex.
These masks are secured on the face by looping the straps on the ends around your ears. They’re rectangular and cover the mouth and nose.
Unlike some of the more advanced masks, these might not be as comfortable or well-fitting as more customized fitted masks.
The mask has several construction components that make it an ideal option for use in the operating room.
The non-adhering material won’t stick to your face or your clothing.
It’s made up of fine mesh and gauze, which are both breathable enough that you’ll have a flow of fresh air with every inhale. The gauze has been sterilized with a Xeroform emulsion.
#3. Safe’N’Clear Communicator Surgical Mask
The Safe’N’Clear Communicator mask is a more unique concept in the operating room.
Rather than covering the nose and mouth in an unbroken swath of material, these masks have a window through which a person’s lips can be seen.
This helps them to be more audible when they speak, especially if there are individuals around who need to read lips to follow a conversation.
Each of the boxes has forty masks arranged in an easy dispenser. The clear window has equal levels of sanitary protection. In fact, the masks have been registered with the FDA.
They meet the established standards for a level 1 surgical mask. In addition to being used by surgeons in the operating room, communicator masks are often used by nurses, dentists, doctors, and a variety of other medical professionals.
The mask filtration system meets the N95 standards. It reaches the highest possible protection levels as outlined by the CDC and the FDA.
In lab tests, the product has been proven to block more than 95 percent of airborne particles and bacterial agents. All the products are manufactured and assembled in the United States.
The surgical face masks from Dynarex are a good choice for surgeons and other people in medical settings.
Each pack comes with fifty masks that have already been sterilized, so they’re convenient and ready to go into the operating room.
The masks are meant for a single use during each surgical procedure or operating room visit, and should be disposed of immediately afterward.
If you’re looking for a more structured medical mask that has N95 filtration capabilities, the 3M masks are a good option.
There’s twenty masks in every pack. Each of the structured masks can fit easily over your mouth and nose. It comes with a nose clamp that lets you mold the top edge of the mask to your cheeks and the bridge of your nose.
For those who need a mask that facilitates communication, the Communicator is a ood choice. These FDA registered masks come in boxes of easily-dispensed forty-packs.
Each of the masks has a window in it to allow the medical practitioner to speak clearly and have their mouth seen.
The product meets the FDA’s standards for a level 1 surgical mask, and it also meets N95 filtration standards for safety.