N95 masks vs surgical masks?

So thanks to the forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia, Singapore is experiencing one of it’s worst weeks with the highest ever PSI ever recorded in history. It doesn’t help when senseless remarks are made saying we are childish and tizzy over what some people perceive as a “domestic issue”, and that we did not make noise when there is abundance of fresh air. -.-

That being said, and ugly politics aside, more and more of us are taking to the streets with masks – be it surgical masks or the bulky N95. I’ve always wondered what are the difference between them, and thought they’re just both as effective. Turns out the surgical ones are not of much use.

Surgical masks often worn by doctors and medical professionals

Surgical masks often worn by doctors and medical professionals

Example of an N95 mask

Example of an N95 mask

This is an excerpt from the Ministry of Health’s website:

Only respirator masks (i.e. N95 or equivalent) are effective in filtering out the fine particles that are produced during haze episodes. Surgical masks are of no use, and offer a false sense of security.

The respirator masks are available in commercial pharmacies and Singhealth/NHG polyclinics.

That being said, I think most of us would only be able to lay our hands on a surgical mask and not an N95. I guess it’s better than nothing. Time to grab one now if you can.

Stay indoors, stay healthy and stay hydrated guys!

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PS: I also got this piece of information off Eunice’s Facebook according to one of her contacts:

…these particulates (in the haze) are too tiny and they will bypass the hairy and mucous nose to lodge into the lungs. As these particulates are non-water solvent, they will stay in the lungs, will cause cells to mutate and potentially cancer cells can develop from there. So do take care and keep your children and elderly folks indoors. And wear N95 masks even though it’s a short walk from home to car and office.

So wear your masks and take care!

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