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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to common questions about masks.

Common Questions About Masks

What are the standards for medical face masks?

A 3-ply medical face mask usually contains a layer of melt-blown material between two layers of non- woven layer, the number of layers does not correlate with the bacterial filtration efficiency nor the fluid resistance of a mask. Manufacturers conduct tests to meet the ASTM or EN14683 standards before marketing medical grade face masks in the United States or Europe.

FDA required manufacturers to conduct the following tests:

  • Fluid Resistance
  • Differential Pressure (Delta P)
  • Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE)
  • Particle Filtration Efficiency (0.1μm PFE)
  • Flammability

Why is the fit of the mask so important?

A mask is only as effective as its fit. There should be no gaps along the side, around the nose or under the chin that would allow air and droplets to bypass the mask. The mask should always be properly adjusted to fully cover both the mouth and the nose. A mask that fits improperly may causes excessive handling/adjustments, contaminating your hands and the mask.

Will facial hair affect the effectiveness of a medical face mask?

Wearing a medical face mask reduces virus transmission. This is achieved by not allowing airborne particles to leak through the sides of the mask. Facial hair prevents the face mask from sitting directly on the face. The space created between your skin and facial hair will interfere with the fit.


How do I know if the medical face mask is on correctly?

There are three things you should be looking for to ensure the proper fit.

  • The aluminum nose piece is at the top
  • The white surface is on the inside (against your skin) and the blue always faces out
  • The pleats fall downwards and away from the nose

What is the difference between a medical face mask and a respirator?

Medical face masks are loose fitting masks that cover the mouth and nose. They are designed to stop large droplets and splashes or sprays. A respirator is an item of PPE designed to reduce exposure to airborne contaminants. Known airborne pathogens include TB, SARS, Anthrax, and Hanta virus. Respirators must be individually selected to fit the wearers face and shown to provide a good seal. They also must be certified by NIOSH, and accompanied with a respiratory program including fit testing and training on care, use, and maintenance.

What is the difference between a medical face mask and a surgical/procedural face mask?

Medical face masks are also known as surgical and procedural face masks. They are the same type of loose fitting masks that cover the mouth and nose.

How do I prevent the fogging of prescription/safety glasses when wearing a mask?

The most effective ways to prevent fogging of eyewear are:

  • Ensure the mask fits firmly to the bridge/around the nose. This is most easily done with masks containing malleable plastic/metallic band in the nosepiece, such as the disposable masks available at UR Stores.
  • Wash the eyewear with soapy water and gently dry. For prescription eyewear check with your optician if there are any protective/special coatings which may be damaged before washing.
  • Adjust the mask to fit underneath/be secured by the nosepiece/bottom of the eyewear.