New Face Masks Relieve Pressure on KN95 Supplies

  • 2022-10-12
  • 994

Manufacturers are introducing face masks for general use that they say offer more protection than cloth coverings without taxing supplies of the N95 masks used in hospitals.

These mask makers said many of the new models coming to market are more protective than cloth masks but don’t reach the level of protection provided by N95s, which stop at least 95% of very small particles with a sophisticated filter and a snug fit to the face.

The new masks are designed to fill what makers call a hole in the medical-gear market as Covid-19 cases surge—something for nonmedical people worried about exposure in their day-to-day lives. Manufacturers say their new masks follow recommendations from public health authorities and typically include a combination of reusable layers and a replaceable filter.

Despite big increases in domestic production, N95s have been in short supply since the pandemic began. The new surge in cases is putting fresh strain on U.S. stockpiles of a critical piece of equipment for doctors and nurses treating patients with Covid-19.

The new masks aimed at everyday consumers aren’t subjected to the same federal certification process as N95s intended for medical workers. Getting certified to produce N95s is a long and rigorous process, manufacturers said. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has approved about 20 additional makers of N95s and similar products this year, according to the agency, increasing the number of certified companies around the world by about one-third.

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