New 3M™ Particulate Respirator 9123 is designed for consumers to help reduce inhalation exposure to certain airborne particles.
At the start of 2020, face coverings were the domain of medical professionals and residents of polluted cities. Now, as they become a fact of life around the globe, consumers are realising not all face coverings are created equal.
Terry Gorman, a Sydney-based occupational hygienist and PPE consultant who has worked for 3M Australia and New Zealand in the Personal Safety Division for 20 years, says that when people refer to 'masks', it means any kind of covering for the nose and mouth for source control.
But many people are now looking at taking a step up and wearing respirators for everyday tasks such as shopping, journeys on public transport and in other crowded public situations.
"Respirators have the additional ability to create an effective seal to the face, making them much more effective in capturing airborne particles of various sizes," Gorman says. "This means they provide a reduction in inhalation exposure to airborne particles as compared to a regular face covering that often fits loosely."
Standard home or some commercial-made face coverings are not as effective at reducing the wearer's inhalation exposure to airborne particles. A respirator is designed to help protect the wearer from exposure to airborne particles when worn properly by directing the airflow through the filter, rather than around the edges.
Typically, respirators are used in workplaces such as healthcare or industries where workers need protection from airborne particles such as dust or infectious particles. While there has been a worldwide shortage of respirators because of increased demand, production has been ramped up –some products can now be found in grocery, chemists and other retailers for the general public.
Global science and technology company 3M is producing enough respirators to serve a wide range of customers and sectors. Recently 3M launched a new disposable P2 respirator, the 3M™ Particulate Respirator 9123, flat-fold respirator intended for everyday consumer use. The respirator is worn over the mouth and nose and attaches via stretchable side bands with hook attachment behind the base of the head. It has a smooth inner material to make it comfortable to wear in everyday situations.
"Its spacious, contoured design provides a comfortable experience for the wearer, making it easy to breathe & speak," Gorman says. "3M™ Advanced Electrostatic Media filter technology are highly charged microfibres that enhance the capture of airborne particles while allowing you to breathe easy."
When used correctly, the 3M™ Particulate Respirator 9123 filter media filters at least 95 per cent* of airborne particulate matter such as airborne pollen, smoke particles, bushfire particles, household dust, vehicle exhaust particles and other non-oily airborne particles.
Gorman says one of the challenges in designing a respirator like this is maximising filtration performance while also making it easy and comfortable to breathe through.
"With anything that covers your nose and mouth, there will be some amount of resistance as you breathe in and out, but the aim is to design a respirator that has a balance of high particle filtration performance, that is easy to breathe through and is comfortable for the wearer," he says.
*3M™ Particulate Respirator 9123 meets Australian and New Zealand standard (AS/NZS 1716), and the filter media is tested to filtration efficiency requirements GB2626-2019 KN95, the national standard for respirators in China.
Availability: Available in one-count, three-count, five-count and 25 count, convenient and easy to store packaging, the 3M™ Particulate Respirator 9123 has a shelf life of five years from manufacturing date and is available through our leading retailers, in stores and online.
About 3M: At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily as our employees connect with customers all around the world. Learn more about 3M's creative solutions to global challenges at www.3M.com or on Twitter @3M or @3MNews.