Respiratory Protection in Health Care

Respiratory protection in health care for contact droplets/airborne precautions commonly follows two filtering device paths, N95 mask respirators and PAPRs. Here are some pros and cons.

N95 – N95 masks filter at least 95% of particles <5 μm in diameter
• Allow the use of stethoscopes and do not require an air source
• Noiseless
• Requiring an initial and periodic fit testing
• The possibility of being compromised by an improper fit (eg, because of facial hair),
• Poor tolerance by users due to breathing resistance,
• Heat and moisture build up,
• High cost of stocking different types and sizes,
• The potential for contamination due to exposed face, anterior neck and hair
• Must be used with face shield and hair cover

CCM Hood / PAPR  – High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters have a similar filtration as P100 (ie, they filter at least 99.97% of particles 0.3 μm in diameter)
• Greater level of respiratory protection than N95 masks / positive pressure inside
• Provides head, eyes, hair and neck protection
• Do not require fit testing because of a full hood
• Approved for use with facial hair
• The inability to use a stethoscope
• Must be connected to an air source