- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Getting schooled: N95 and surgical mask 101

With all the hubbub concerning whether to use N95 respirators or surgical/procedure masks for H1N1 protection, NIOSH posted a nice piece on the history, development, and effectiveness of these medical devices on its science blog [1].

If you are still confused over the N95 vs. mask debate—one of the problems is that they look similar but are designed for very different purposes— I encourage you to read the complete NIOSH blog post for a thorough and non-geeky explanation.

Here are some tidbits, according to NIOSH:

The blog post also allows for comments and the authors, Lisa Brosseau, Sc.D., and Roland Berry Ann, are responsive to questions.

For example, they gave a nice explanation of how H1N1 can be both droplet and airborne transmitted, something that many healthcare workers find difficult to comprehend.