Respirators meet the CDC Guidelines for Mycobacterium tuberculosis exposure control. They are certified by NIOSH as N95's and designed to provide a secure face-to-respirator seal. This seal helps reduce the wearer's exposure to airborne particles, making them appropriate for protection from laser and electrocautery plume.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks have been employed as a public and personal health control measure against the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Their use is intended as personal protection to prevent infection and as source control to limit transmission of the virus in a community or healthcare setting. The World Health Organization and other public health organisations agree that masks can limit the spread of respiratory viral diseases such as COVID-19.
As of early May 2020, 88% of the world's population lived in countries that recommend or mandated the use of masks in public; more than 75 countries had mandated the use of masks.
A surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. If worn properly, a surgical mask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain viruses and bacteria, keeping it from reaching the wearer's mouth and nose. Surgical masks may also help reduce exposure of the wearer's saliva and respiratory secretions to others.
Surgical masks made to different standards in different parts of the world have different ranges of particles which they filter. For example, the People's Republic of China regulates two types of such masks: single-use medical masks (Chinese standard YY/T 0969) and surgical masks (YY 0469). The latter ones are required to filter bacteria-sized particles (BFE ≥ 95%) and some virus-sized particles (PFE ≥ 30%), while the former ones are required to only filter bacteria-sized particles.