Q&A

Are valve masks effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19?

Are valve masks effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19?

Valve masks have a one-way valve allowing exhaled air to pass through a small round or square filter attached to the front. They only filter air breathed in, not breathed out. So it may protect the wearer from some pathogens in the air, but it does nothing to protect the people around you.

Is it okay to wear a N95 face mask with an exhalation valve to protect me and others from COVID-19?

Yes, an N95 filtering facepiece respirator will protect you and provide source control to protect others. A NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirator with an exhalation valve offers the same protection to the wearer as one that does not have a valve. As source control, findings from NIOSH research suggest that, even without covering the valve, N95 respirators with exhalation valves provide the same or better source control than surgical masks, procedure masks, cloth masks, or fabric coverings.

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What does a N95 respirator protect you from during the COVID-19 pandemic?

N95 respirators and surgical masks are examples of personal protective equipment that are used to protect the wearer from particles or from liquid contaminating the face. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also regulates N95 respirators.

What should you know about face masks with valves?

You should know that face masks with valves are being banned in a growing number of places, from much of California to the Colorado cities of Denver and Boulder. The non-compliant masks have a one-way valve that allows your exhaled air to pass through a small round or square filter disk attached to the front of the mask.

Should people with exhalation valves wear masks to prevent covid-19?

People should wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but not those with exhalation valves or vents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

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Do N95 masks with one-way valves keep you safe?

The N95 masks with one-way valves do not comply with those orders. It makes sense. Allowing mostly unfiltered exhalations into the air will keep the virus spreading. That’s why it’s been important for complete face coverings. It’s about keeping yourself safe with each breath just as much as it’s about protecting everyone else.

How do masks and respirators work?

Some masks and respirators have a little plastic piece embedded in the fabric. It’s a one-way valve. That means it closes when you breathe in, so pathogens can’t get in through it. But when you breathe out, this valve opens, creating a doorway for your exhalation to leave the mask.