Is a respirator considered a face mask?

What is a face mask?

A face mask is a loose-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth area. They have two ear loops that stretch around the ears to hold the mask in place. Face masks are designed to be used as one-way protection only,  used to prevent the spread of common colds and the flu.

What is a surgical mask?

In some cases, a face mask can be considered a face mask. It is intended to be worn by health professionals during healthcare procedures. It is designed to prevent infections in patients and treating personnel by catching bacteria shed in liquid droplets and aerosols from the wearer’s mouth and nose. They are not designed to protect the wearer from breathing in airborne bacteria or viruses whose particles are smaller.

What is a respirator?

A respirator is a device designed to protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous atmospheres, including fumes, vapors, gases, and particulate matter such as dust and airborne microorganisms.

Three distinct categories:

  1. Disposable (typically N95 and healthcare uses)
  2. Half-face
  3. Full-face

Who will benefit from wearing a respirator?

  • People with respiratory complications such as asthma or lung disease
  • People who are obese or have diabetes
  • People who have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease
  • Children, teenagers and the elderly
  • Expectant women and new mothers

Use limitation:

  • Respirators: Generally, single-use. Should be discarded when it:
    • becomes damaged or deformed,
    • no longer forms an effective seal to the face,
    • becomes wet or visibly dirty,
    • breathing through it becomes more difficult, or
    • becomes contaminated with blood, respiratory or nasal secretions, or other bodily fluids.
    • Some types of respirators can be reused
  • Surgical masks: One-time use (one patient encounter).
  • Face masks:  followed materials


  1. 3M safety
  2. CCOHS