Is there a difference between a mask and a respirator?
A: Masks and respirators both cover a wearer’s nose and mouth, but they differ in several aspects.
Masks are loose fitting and may not provide full protection from breathing in airborne pathogens, such as viruses.
- Face masks (non-surgical masks) may not provide protection from fluids or may not filter particles, needed to protect against pathogens, such as viruses. They are not for surgical use and are not considered personal protective equipment.
- Surgical masks are fluid-resistant, disposable, and loose-fitting devices that create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and the immediate environment. They are for use in surgical settings and do not provide full protection from inhalation of airborne pathogens, such as viruses.
Respirators are personal protective equipment that tightly fit the face and filter airborne particles to protect health care workers. They provide a higher level of protection against viruses and bacteria when properly fit-tested