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Flu Masks - N95 (P2) Flu Mask - What You Should KNow to Help Prevent the H1N1 Virus

Updated on November 9, 2011

What You Need to Know About Flu Masks

US Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends N95 NIOSH approved masks to prevent the spread of SWINE FLU. The P2 mask is the Australian Standards equivalent of the US N95. Several companies manufacture masks that meet these specifications.

According to a randomized controlled clinical trial of mask use in households to prevent respiratory virus transmission (Not specifically the H1N1) published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases and the Journal of Centers for Disease control and Prevention masks are effective in reducing your chances of catching a variety of viruses including those responsible for colds and flu. The H1N1 pandemic is hitting hard and fast! You need to make your self aware of preventative options.

During the winters of 2006 and 2007, MacIntyre and her team tested the effectiveness of masks on 286 adults (mostly parents) in 143 households in Australia. They split participants into three groups: one in which participants wore surgical masks (used in hospitals), another in which members wore a mask known as a P2 that's specially designed to filter out water droplets containing viruses, and, finally, one in which subjects did not don cover-ups.

All of the participants were initially healthy, but at risk for catching viruses from their children, who had documented cases of respiratory illness. The researchers found that, after a week, the non-mask wearers were four times more likely to catch a variety of viruses, including the common cold and flu, than those who wore them properly (meaning they strapped them on whenever they happened to be in the same room as their sick children). The masks appeared to be equally effective.

What is interesting to note in this study was standard paper surgical masks were as effective as n95 paper/fabric masks. Keep in mind that P2 in Australia in the same specification as n95 in the USA. While this was a small study this finding is not insignificant.

Are Masks Really Effective in Preventing Flu Pandemics?

The H1N1 virus measures between 80 – 120 nanometers while n95 masks only filter particles larger than 300 nanometers. So logic would dictate that an n95 would not be as effective or provide any protection as the filtration media is simply to porous to filter such small particles. Granted this was a small case study.

One could speculate that the smaller particles are suspended in liquid droplets which are stopped by the n95 masks (Think grapes suspended in Jello squares). Unfortunately this does not seem to have been addressed specifically in the study, but is still widely believed.

3M markets a mask model: 3M 8233 N100 as “Helps against H1N1 Virus / Swine Flu Virus”. 1 Micron = 1000 Nanometers so .3 micron (The rating of this mask) = 300 nanometers which is larger than the size of the H1N1 Virus. Kind of like pouring water on a screen and not expecting the water to pass through? Well not exactly because the medical professions believes the virus is in fact suspended in moisture droplets. Viruses including bird flu and the common cold are transmitted in the same way and start off with similar symptoms.


What is the H1N1 Virus?

A: Influenza A(H1N1) (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Influenza A (H1N1) viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Will a n95 Mask Be Effective in Preventing H1N1?

N-95 Respirator – The Barrier® N-95 Particulate Respirator provides increased protection from airborne pathogens as compared to surgical masks. N-95 respirators form a tight seal around the nose and mouth with a filter efficiency of 95% of 0.3 micron particles. Surgical masks allow airflow around the loose outer edges, and therefore, provide poor protection for non-infected persons. The Barrier® N-95 Particulate Respirator is appropriate for use by health care workers treating infected patients according to the CDC guidelines . Although the influenza A(H1N1) virus size is 0.1 microns in size, it will usually be encapsulated in a moisture droplet that results in a particulate size exceeding 0.3 microns, which is the particulate test size utilized for the N-95 respirator.

Note the statement: “It will usually be encapsulated in a moisture droplet that results in a particulate size exceeding 0.3 microns”.

That’s comforting right – usually? Here is the source if you would like to read it for yourself:

Do Masks Really Help Prevent Flu Outbreaks?

The answer is a qualified "maybe" or if you are optimistic "probably". There is little real world scientific evidence to fully back up the claims. More testing needs to be done, but the powers that be seem content on vaccinations and treatment... and the same old "wash your hands" rhetoric.

Do you believe a study, do you believe the logic that in order for a mask to be effective it should filter the size of the Virus itself? Some viruses are even smaller than H1N1! It really doesn’t matter because in this case our options are to trust what is believed by the Center for Disease Control – and that is that n95/p2 masks help reduce the spread of the H1N1 Virus or to not even bother and go mask free. It’s up to you. You may want to consider also being vaccinated this year as many government run health departments are offering free H1N1 flu shots this year.

Tip: If you decide to purchase n95 masks to reduce your risk of contracting H1N1 or any other virus including the common cold be sure to buy masks with exhalation values to reduce heat and moisture build up as you breathe.

Center for Disease Control Flu Mask Recommendations

Interim Recommendations for Facemask and Respirator Use to Reduce 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Transmission

Comments Welcome

Pictured the 3M H1N1 Virus Protection Mask

3M 8233 N100, HEPA certificated, have a minimum filter efficiency of 99.97% of particulate mater of less than 0.3 micron. This face mask has an N100 filter. This is the best rated filter by the CDC and WHO and is recommended for ultimate protection.
3M 8233 N100, HEPA certificated, have a minimum filter efficiency of 99.97% of particulate mater of less than 0.3 micron. This face mask has an N100 filter. This is the best rated filter by the CDC and WHO and is recommended for ultimate protection.


Submit a Comment

  • H P Roychoudhury profile image

    H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India


    Thanks for information in the field of uncertainty of self protection.

  • ethel smith profile image

    Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    UK hospitals still seem undecided on the use of masks. Personally anything that may help is fine by me.

  • ehern33 profile image

    ehern33 8 years ago

    Thanks for the info and I too beleive the mask is safer than the vaccine. Good research work here.

  • vrajavala profile image

    vrajavala 8 years ago from Port St. Lucie

    wow, this sounds a lot safer than the vaccine. And take some colloidal silver