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Masks are NOT all created equal. There are many differences. DO NOT BE PENNY WISE AND DOLLAR FOOLISH. Please be smart when purchasing facemasks, quality counts when your health is at risk. The American Society For Testing and Materials (ASTM) have statutorily defined mask levels and which mask should be worn in different procedures. Masks are grouped into level 1, 2, and 3.
Level 1: Low barrier protection
These masks have a ASTM low barrier protection for general use for short procedures and exams that don’t involve aerosols, spray or fluids.
Level 2: Moderate barrier protection
These masks offer a barrier of protection for low to moderate levels of aerosols, spray and/or fluids. They are suitable for procedures with light or moderate amount of blood, fluid, where aerosols and airborne sprays are produced.
Level 3: Maximum barrier protection
- These masks offer a maximum barrier protection for heavy levels of aerosols, spray and/or fluids. These masks are ideal for procedures with a moderate or high amount of fluid, blood, aerosols or spray exposure.
Masks are tested to five criteria:
- Bacterial Filtration
- Particulate Filtration
- Fluid Resistance
The more resistance the mask offers to any of these criteria, the higher the grade, and thus the higher the protection. Higher protection masks are more suited to surgery or working with chemicals, however, will not protect against vapours, which will need a respirator.