N95 Mask vs P2 Mask

Masks have been in the news a lot since COVID. Health professionals and the Ministry of Health recommend wearing masks in public to reduce the spread of the virus. They also claim that different kinds of masks are more effective than others. Two kinds that are often mentioned as most effective are N95 masks and P2 Mask. So what’s the difference between the two, and when do you need one of these instead of a normal mask?

What’s the difference between N95 Masks and P2 Masks?

While you may hear both terms, they’re actually talking about the same kind of mask.

“N95” is based on the set of testing standards they use over in the USA. They are based on the United States National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health standards. The N stands for “Non-oil”. This means it’s appropriate for worksites where no oil is present because it’s not resistant to oil. The 95 means that they are 95 percent efficient–they filter out 95% of all particles in the air.

“P2” is based on the Australia and New Zealand standards, AS/NZS1716 for Respiratory Protective Devices. P2 masks filter at least 94% of airborne particles and protect against small particles from mechanical processes like grinding and particles generated from thermal processes like welding. They are also effective for small particles like bacteria and viruses like COVID-19. It tests for similar situations as the USA test so the masks are nearly identical.

Design of P2 Masks and N95 Masks

Since these masks were made to protect in similar situations, they have the same design. They are half-face respirators–they don’t cover the eyes–and have a more robust fit. The extra fitting options let them make a tight seal so that no particles can get around the mask. In fact, the standards require a person to be fitted properly when these kinds of masks are required in the workplace.

The masks also have a cartridge filter that keeps out airborne particles. Filterless masks provide some protection, but it’s the filter that keeps out the majority of particles. Some other kinds of masks do have filters, but don’t have the proper fit so particles can get around them.

This is why P2 masks are so effective. They have a strong filter AND a tight fit that creates a seal. To find out more details about the design of the masks and the testing standards, see this respirator factsheet from 3m.

Do I need a P2 (N95) Mask?

If you’re in a high-risk environment, a P2 mask can increase your protection compared to surgical or normal reusable masks. However, they are in limited stock and you might not need them in low-risk areas like quick trips to the Supermarket in areas without active COVID cases. Ultimately it’s up to you if you would prefer the extra protection from a P2 mask if they aren’t required in your workplace.

P2 Masks at Safety1st

P2 masks are in very high demand in the current environment but we get shipments when can at Safety1st. Currently, we have a couple of different ones available and we’ll update them to “Out of Stock” with an estimated ETA if we have one.

Breathe Easy non-Valve P2 Mask – Box of 20 – $25.65 + gst

Uses: Grinding, sanding, drilling, masonry. Also for Medical/Healthcare and COVID protection.

Features: P2 rating that meets AS/NZS1716. These have a dual strap and colour-coded packaging.

PS Respirator Mask

Breathe Easy Folding P2 Mask – Box of 20 – $29.90 + gst

Uses: Protection against thermally and mechanically generated particles. Also used for Healthcare/Medical and COVID protection.

Features: P2 rating that meets AS/NZS1716. They have a dual strap and an adjustable nose clip along with an inner foam seal. They are also foldable for added convenience.

P2 Respirator Mask - Foldable