Disposable N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks: A Comparison

Since certain disposable filtering facepiece particulate respirators are similar in appearance to many surgical/procedure masks, their differences are not always well understood. However, respirators and surgical/procedure masks are very different in intended use, fit against the face, wear time, testing and approval. The purpose of this document is to highlight some of these differences, particularly for healthcare workers. Surgical/procedure masks may be provided to patients to help protect healthcare workers and other patients from particles being introduced into the room as a patient talks, sneezes or coughs.