3M N95 respirator
A respirator is a type of personal protective equipment. It prevents the wearer from inhaling aerosols (dust, smoke, mist) as well as vapors or gases (disinfectants, anesthetic gases) that are health hazards. It also protects the wearer from airborne infectious agents i.e. against contamination by a virus such as coronavirus, SARS, H1N1, etc.
Respirators are divided into two categories: insulating (which are not covered in this buying guide) and filtering.
Filtering respirators consist of a facepiece and a filtering device. Sometimes the filter element is integrated into the facepiece. Depending on the type of filter, the mask will either be effective only against particles, only against certain gases and vapors, or against particles, gases and vapors.
Filtering respirators can sometimes also be equipped with an exhalation valve to improve user comfort. The valve prevents condensation inside the mask, misting on the glasses and helps the user breathe in and out easily.
It should be noted that respirators also protect those who wear them from inhaling “droplets” of infectious agents.