Which Respirator I use and Why

Yesterday I posted this selfie from my flight to Boston:

A few things to note:

  • Grown men do, in fact, take selfies
  • My choice in surgical mask is a bit… unique
  • Airplane cabins are not conducive to people over 6’0

I’ve since gotten a number of questions about the mask.

Generally I use a mask whenever I’m taking mass transportation – subway, commuter rail, Amtrak, airplane, etc. I’m also sure to wear a mask whenever I’m in a transportation hub, like a major rail station or an airport, or in any medical setting. There are also a number of one off situations when I’ll wear a respirator – when someone is someone is sick in the house or if I’m in the presence of a lot of smoke. I don’t wear one at a sporting event, concert, in the hockey locker room, etc. I think it’s important to mitigate the risk of getting sick when appropriate according to your specific needs.

I use the 3M N95 1870 mask as my choice of respirator when I’m on the go.

Why?

First, The Infection Prevention and Control Guideline for Cystic Fibrosis endorses N95 masks. N95 is sort of a rating, which means, “While breathing through it, the filter removes 95% of airborne particles.”

The 3M N95 1870 is really in a league of its own when it comes to affordable, effective masks – I buy in bulk and can get the mask for <$1 per mask (usually on Amazon). Unlike Vogmask, it’s one use, which I think is the best part about 1870.

I consider Vogmask to be one of the worst fads in our community. They look “cool,” so people reach for them, but they’re a breeding ground for airborne pathogens. Do you thoroughly disinfect your reusable mask after every use? When you walk out of your CF clinic, do you actually think the viruses and bacteria just magically disappear from the outside of the Vogmask before you get into your car and drive home? Do you bring your mask inside your home, and THEN wash it?

Vogmask may look cool… but it’s not a wise investment in your health.

In fact, last year Cystic Fibrosis Foundation released a statement noting, “The Vogmask does NOT meet the CF Foundation infection prevention and control guideline recommendation that ‘all people with CF wear a surgical (procedure, isolation) mask when in a health care facility to reduce the risk of transmission or acquisition of CF pathogens.‘”

3M N95 1870’s filter works both ways, meaning you’re protecting other people with CF from your bugs, and it also lasts for several hours. Unlike the typical paper mask you pick up at CVS, 1870 can do its job significantly longer than most other paper masks. In my opinion, they make the most sense for people with CF.

1870 is comfortable, reliable and affordable. Yeah… they look a little menacing, but at the end of the day my health is the more important than anything else.