Cloth Face Masks

Recommended by the CDC for use by the general public, cloth face masks help reduce the spread of infection by trapping droplets released when the wearer talks, sneezes or coughs. Typically made from tightly woven fabric, cloth face masks are worn to protect others from the transmission of illnesses. They are most effective at limiting the spread of disease, including COVID-19, when widely used by people in public settings. While they provide protection to those around the wearer, they offer only limited protection to the wearer from other people. Non-medical disposable paper masks provide a similar level of protection.

Cloth face coverings come in many forms -- homemade masks, neck gaiters and even commercially manufactured masks with filters. The most effective cloth face masks are composed of 2-3 layers of tightly-woven fabric (often cotton). They should fit snugly to the face and be worn above the nose and below the chin. Be sure to wash or sanitize your hands before and after handling your mask, and avoid touching your mask while wearing it. Regularly wash cloth face masks with soap and water between uses.

Face Shields

Face shields are designed to protect the wearer’s eyes against splatters, sprays, and flying debris. They are most often used in conjunction with other PPE by medical personnel during procedures which may cause fluid spray. In fact, they are often worn today when intubating patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The CDC does not recommend face shields be worn as a substitution for face masks that cover the mouth and nose. They fit snugly to the forehead and extend down below the chin, leaving large gaps below and alongside the face, which allow respiratory droplets to escape. However, when worn together with a face mask, a face shield can offer increased protection.

Surgical Masks

Primarily designed to block large particle droplets and direct aerosol spray, surgical masks are made of a non-woven fabric that fit loosely to the face. They are regulated by the FDA and must adhere to ASTM standards, ranging between four levels of protection. When properly worn, surgical masks can effectively block direct spray particles as small as 0.1 microns. However, due to their loose fit, they are not effective at protecting the wearer against airborne contaminants, like respiratory droplets produced during a cough or sneeze. They are worn above the nose and below the chin, with earloops creating as tight a fit as is possible. As with other mask options, be sure to wash your hands before and after handling the mask and avoid touching the mask while wearing it.

Currently, due to shortages in supply, the CDC does not recommend the use of surgical masks by the general public, instead reserving these masks for frontline and healthcare workers. They are also recommended for patients with confirmed or suspected diagnoses of COVID-19, particularly when out in public or in a healthcare setting. RB Medical Supply’s domestically made 3-layer surgical face mask offering meets ASTM levels 1 through 3 standards, providing a barrier based on the wearer's risk of fluid exposure.

Respirator Masks

Respirator masks, including N95 and KN95, are designed to create a seal around the mouth and nose, offering protection for the wearer against airborne contaminants. Similar to the surgical mask, they are regulated by the FDA and CDC, undergoing certification to ensure they achieve proper filtration of relevant particles. When properly worn to achieve a seal around the mouth and nose, respirator masks will filter out at least 95% of particulate matter that is 0.3 microns or larger, hence their name. The CDC recommends these masks be reserved for frontline workers and medical personnel.

N95 Masks

N95 masks are regulated within the United States, undergoing extensive testing throughout the certification process by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They are one of the only medical face masks approved for use in healthcare settings. Composed of multiple layers of synthetic material, N95 masks can filter particles even as small as 0.1 microns, though 0.3 is the standard by which they are certified. RB Medical Supply offers domestically made N95 masks composed of two layers of spun bonded polypropylene and two layers of melt blown nonwoven polypropylene. Our masks provide 95% filtration protection against particles and bacteria that are 0.1 microns or larger.

KN95 Masks

The N95 respirator mask is ordinarily the only respirator approved for healthcare use in the United States. However, due to PPE shortages brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has granted emergency use authorizations (EAUs) for KN95 masks. While the N95 respirator mask is the US standard, the KN95 mask is the China standard. Both respirator masks achieve the same level of filtration, but there are some key differences between them. KN95 masks tend to achieve a tighter fit, owing to fit tests that must be performed on human subjects during the certification process. N95 masks are slightly more breathable than KN95 masks because of US regulations related to the pressure drop that occurs when inhaling and exhaling.

Depend on RB Medical Supply for your PPE Needs

RB Medical Supply, a division of RB Sigma, LLC, has been dedicated to providing PPE for governmental agencies, frontline workers, and the public throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We are a top-tier medical supplier for COVID-19 PPE, offering a full line of high-quality surgical masks, N95 respirator masks, and more. Our domestically made PPE is manufactured right in the heart of Northeast Ohio in our own Mentor facility. Browse our selection and place your PPE order today.