Choosing a Better Mask Aaron M. Miller, Ph.D. @amillerphd
Why I created this: many people have expressed an interest in wearing a more effective mask, but with all the choices it can be difficult to know where to start. This list is not intended to be inclusive, but rather to be a brief guide to a small number of currently available mask choices.
Why you should choose a high-filtration mask: compared to a typical cloth mask, they offer much better protection to both the wearer and others. With more transmissible virus variants spreading and many months before vaccines are widely available, better masks are a crucial strategy to protect individuals and keep case rates low in the community.
These masks are only as effective as their seal. Air should pass through the mask material without escaping around the sides. You might need to try several masks to find one that fits comfortably and forms a seal
Video: how to do a seal check
With the exception of the elastomeric respirator and washable cloth mask, masks below are intended to be disposable. Due to cost and supply concerns, mask reuse may be inevitable. I recommend rotating masks so that each one is used once per week or less. The virus that causes COVID-19 degrades over time. It has been recommended that these masks can be reused many times as long as a seal can be maintained.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation or financial interest in any of these products. I have personally used some, but not all of these.
Adult High-Filtration Masks
Halyard 46727 Best protection, but supply is very limited. Mostly reserved for healthcare settings, but some are available to the public.
N95 Respirator Protective Health Gear
United States Mask
FACEFIT Filtration similar to N95. KF94 is a Korean standard for community (non-medical) masks. Most have earloop design which may make it harder to get a seal.
KF94 Mask Dr. Puri www.BeHealthyUSA.net is authorized seller of many KF94 but is starting to face shipping delays as of 2/3/21.
Dr. Puri (Amazon)
Powecom KN95 is a Chinese standard roughly equivalent to N95. Earloop and head strap designs available
KN95 Mask Caution: only buy KN95 listed under the FDA EUA.
Armbrust Cheapest and easiest to acquire
Medical-Grade Surgical Mask Recommend pairing with mask brace such as Badger Seal or Fix The Mask to improve fit and seal. Material is same as that used in N95 masks, so protection is very good when using a brace.
3M 6300 Needs to be paired with 3M N95 or P100 filters. Part number examples: 60926, 7093, 2291. Infographic explaining meaning of P, R, N on filters. Short answer: all work for viral protection.
Elastomeric Respirator 3M 2291 Filters Use a surgical mask to cover the exhale valve
Has the best seal and comfort for some people, but is also more difficult to talk through. Very noticeable appearance as well.
Designed to be reused many times
Kid FACEFIT One of the few high-filtration fitted masks for kids.
Child-Size KF94 Dr. Puri Small
Armbrust Child Size Mask Can be layered with a cloth mask on top for a more secure fit.
Child-Size Medical-Grade Surgical Mask
High-Performance Washable Cloth Masks
Universal Mask 93.6% viral filtration efficiency (VFE), which is close to N95 performance (99%) and much better than a typical cloth mask (60%)
Universal Mask Pro Mask with 5 Micron Filter
Last updated 02/11/2021