Differences Between Face Coverings, Masks & Respirators

As COVID-19 has spread around the world, it has proven to be quite adept at spreading from person to person, primarily through infective respiratory droplets. To limit the spread of the virus, many federal, state, and local agencies are recommending the use of face coverings or masks in public, while some municipalities have made them a requirement. Face coverings, masks, and respirators all serve different purposes, and they offer different levels of protection from the virus.

Are you concerned about the spread of COVID-19? Want to protect your business? Call Inspirion Biosciences today at (301) 304-8191 or contact us online to learn how our sterilization services can make your business safer.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are not considered respiratory protection. Made from cloth, face coverings offer very little protection for the wearer against the virus, as the thickness and weave of the cloth are insufficient to prevent the virus from passing through. They do offer protection for others, however, because as the wearer speaks, coughs, or sneezes, many of the expelled respiratory droplets are caught by the covering, limiting transmission of the virus if the wearer happens to be infected.

To maximize effectiveness, the face covering should consist of multiple layers of fabric, it should cover the nose and mouth and fit tightly against the skin, especially at the edges, and it should allow breathing with minimal restriction so that the wearer does not feel compelled to lower it or remove it. If a nose bridge is present, it should be pinched to conform to the face. The face covering should be laundered and dried after each use.

Disposable Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are loose-fitting masks that attach around the ears and cover the nose and mouth, similar to a face covering. Surgical masks provide barrier protection against large particle droplets but they cannot filter out virus particles. Surgical masks are not considered respiratory protection. They offer little protection against COVID-19 for the wearer, but they do offer some protection for others as the wearer speaks, coughs, or sneezes.

Surgical masks should be disposed of after use. They are ideal for those who must be in contact with the public all day, such as retail workers, government workers, or other non-medical staff. To improve mask fit, the nose bridge should be pinched to conform to the face.


N95 respirators ARE considered respiratory protection. If worn correctly, N95 respirators offer excellent protection for the wearer against COVID-19 infection due to their advanced filter material and tight fit. N95 respirators filter out 95% of 0.3-micron size particles, which has proven effective against the COVID-19 virus. They also protect others from the spread of respiratory droplets while speaking, coughing, or sneezing.

Of the three items discussed in this blog, N95 respirators afford the greatest protection available to the wearer. Although supplies were quite limited at the beginning of the pandemic, when N95 respirators were reserved for use by medical personnel only, supplies have begun to recover.

Innovative sterilization techniques have been developed that allow the reuse of N95 respirators. This means that anyone can safely reuse an N95 respirator where necessary or desired.

N95 respirators require a bit of training or education to use properly, and they must seal tightly against the skin for the best protection. Make sure the nose bridge is pinched to conform to the face, and discard or sterilize the respirator after use.

Does your facility need N95 respirators sterilized? Call Inspirion Biosciences today at (301) 304-8191 or contact us online. We offer safe, effective N95 sterilization nationwide. Simply ship us your used respirators, and we will sterilize them and ship them back. Alternatively, we can come to you!

Laboratory & Commercial Sterilization Services in MD & DC

Keep your business or laboratory safe with our commercial sterilization services from Inspirion Biosciences. We serve Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, plus we offer mobile sterilization services.

Call (301) 304-8191 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today!

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