Differences between a surgical mask, respirators and cloth/homemade masks
Medical or Surgical Mask
- Made from at least 3 layers of synthetic woven materials with a filtration layer in the middle.
- Reduces transfer of saliva or respiratory droplets from the wearer to others and vice versa.
- Effective barrier against large droplets released when talking, coughing or sneezing.
- Types/levels: N95, N99, FFP2, FFP3
- Respirators come in different sizes to ensure a proper seal and fit around the face. Healthcare professionals must undergo fit testing to determine the proper size of mask, unlike surgical masks which have a looser fit and do not require fit testing.
- Filters at least 95% of airborne particles if fitted and worn properly.
- Protects the wearer from both large and smaller airborne aerosol particles. Certain medical procedures (ex. Inserting a breathing tube) may create smaller airborne aerosol particles which is why working in these settings require the use of N95 masks to provide the greatest amount of protection.
- Offer less protection and are not made from the same fabrics compared to surgical masks and respirators.
- Do not have to be tested to recognized standards.
- Sufficient to protect people in a public setting.
How to wear a mask
- Clean hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water prior to putting your mask on.
- Open your mask fully to cover from your nose to just below your chin.
- Pinch the nose bar to ensure your mask fits snug to your face.
- Avoid touching your mask or face under the mask.
- If you do touch your face or mask, be sure to properly clean your hands.
- Clean hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water.
- Remove using the ties or elastic loops. Do not touch the front of your mask.
- If wearing a single use mask, do not reuse, dispose of the mask in the garbage. If reusable, ensure mask is washed prior to wearing again.
- After discarding your mask clean your hands once again with hand sanitizer or soap and water.
~ Alex, Physiotherapist
Government of Canada – Non-medical Masks and Face Coveringshttps://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/about-non-medical-masks-face-coverings.html
CBC – Masks and COVID-19: When, how and why you’d wear them https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/masks-coronavirus-1.5507186
World Health Organization – Masks and COVID-19 https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-and-masks
Alberta Health Services – When and How to Wear a Maskhttps://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/ppih/if-ppih-covid-19-patients-masks.pdf