Masks and respirators are two types of personal protective equipment (PPE) that are
used to protect workers in healthcare settings. The citizens that are not much in medical
think that masks and respirators both are the names for the same thing. It needs to be
clarified that these both are not the same. There are a few differences that everyone should
What is a face mask?
A face mask is a loosened covering that protects the mouth and nose area, mostly used by
paramedics during the healthcare procedure to prevent the risk of infections in patients and
themselves that can be caught from the droplets and aerosols. They are simple, have two
ear lobes to fix the mask in place. It is designed in a way that they can give protection only
against the large particles or droplets but cannot protect against the airborne particles, as
they are smaller in size. During inhalation, small airborne contaminants pass through gaps
between the face and face masks. Face masks do not provide respiratory protection.
Types of Face Masks
There are various types of face masks that are used in healthcare settings. One of them is a
surgical mask that works as a physical barrier between the environment and wearer’s
mouth. It is a fluid-resisting mask and can be used in a surgical setting. Another important
type of face mask is a dental face mask. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
suggested that all dental professionals should wear dental surgical masks with 95%
protection, efficiency and filtration against droplet spatters, blood borne pathogens and
microbial infections. Antibacterial face mask is also a major type. It is designed to give
intensive defense against airborne bacteria and viruses, with its double antimicrobial and
water-resistant fabric layer. According to the website “Safety Solutions”, fabric of this mask
is incorporated with a proprietary antimicrobial layer which contains no heavy metals,
flouro chemicals or pesticides, and is totally non-hazardous to humans. Besides this, there
are many other types such as laser masks, medical procedure masks and isolation masks.
What is a respirator?
It is also a type of personal protective equipment specially designed to reduce the exposure
to airborne contaminants. These are available in different types and sizes. The respirator
that you use must be chosen to fit your face and provide a tight seal. It is designed in such a
way that the proper seal between your face and the respirator forces inhaled air to be
pulled through the filtering material of the respirator, and not through gaps between your
face and the respirator. Respirators protect against both large and small particles.
Types of Respirators
There are different types of respirators and each of them has a different level of protection.
The first type is a half-mask respirator, also known as particulate or disposable. It is used to
provide protection against dust, pollen, solid pesticides, mists and welding fumes. Moving
towards the next type of respirator, the dual cartridge, also called as half-mask disposable,
protects against pesticides and organic vapors. It is also a maintenance-free, disposable
mask. Another type is a dual cartridge half-mask, reusable respirator. The main advantage of
this is its valves can be changed to match different contaminants, like gases and welding
fumes. To protect your full face, including eyes, nose, and respiratory system you should use
a full face, dual cartridge, reusable mask. The last type is a powered, air-purifying respirator
used to spray on tractors without cabs.
During the outbreak of some diseases, face masks and respirators should be used with other
protective measures that are known to control the spread of disease.