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All Face Masks Not Created Equal

n95 respirators, face masks

Face Masks and other FDA Regulated COVID-19 Products

What is the FDA?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA promotes public health through control and supervision of product categories.

What does the FDA regulate?

  • Foods
  • Drugs
  • Medical Devices
  • Electronic Products that give off radiation
  • Cosmetics
  • Veterinary Products
  • Tobacco Products

Classifications and Types of Face Masks and Respirators

Reduce transfer of germs and contamination. Minimize contamination caused by exhaled microorganisms and contagious droplets. Protect yourself and others by using the right kind of face mask or respirator.

Disposable Face Masks

disposable face mask

A face mask, with or without a face shield. Covers the user’s nose and mouth and may or may not meet fluid barrier or filtration efficiency levels.

From anti virus masks to cleanroom masks to surgical procedure medical face masks, Harmony Lab & Safety Supplies is a trusted source for many types of disposable face masks and respirators. Popular variations include reusable face masks and earloop face masks.

Reusable Face Masks

Reusable Face Mask with Filter

Cotton ear loop face masks that you can wash and use over and over. Sewn-in filter face masks step up your protection. Comfortable, effective, and reusable, washable cloth masks are a popular standard for everyday wear. Form-fitting cloth masks are an economical choice for face protection to prevent contamination.

Face Shields

face shield with face mask and bouffant

A face shield is a device used to protect the user’s eyes and face from bodily fluids, liquid splashes, or potentially infectious materials. Generally, a face shield is situated at the crown of the head and is constructed with plastic to cover the user’s eyes and face.

A face mask with a shield is a good solution in situations where you need to add protection to the eyes against liquid splash and other factors in the environment.

The Shift to Shields

Amidst COVID-19, worldwide use of personal protection is shifting from face masks to face shields.

Surgical Masks

surgical mask with eye shield

A mask that covers the user’s nose and mouth and provides a physical barrier to fluids and particulate materials. The mask meets certain fluid barrier protection standards and Class I or Class II flammability tests.

Ideal for both medical applications and other situations that are prone to splatters or fumes such as painting, superior full-face protection.

Filtering Face-Piece Respirators

reusable filter respirator

Comparatively, a filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) is a device that with these features: disposable half-face-piece, non-powered, and a air-purifying particulate respirator. Intended for use to cover the nose and mouth of the wearer to help reduce wearer exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates. This reusable N95 mask uses replaceable filters with a comfortable and reusable facepiece.

Dust Masks and Respirators are considered essential protective equipment in many industries where excessive dust and air particles can seriously damage workers’ lungs and respiratory system. Wearing a Disposable Respirator is an effective and cost-effective technique to protect against harmful contaminants and pathogens that can cause serious health issues. 

N95 Mask Respirators

disposable n95 respirator

A disposable half-mask filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) that covers the user’s airway (nose and mouth) and offers protection from particulate materials at an N95 filtration efficiency level per 42 CFR 84.181. N95 FFR used in a healthcare setting is regulated by FDA. In addition they are also either a class II device that is exempt from premarket requirements, or a class II cleared device.

A respirator mask is a must-have personal protective equipment in many professions. Wearing a N95 respirator serves as a contamination protection against a number of harmful pathogens and airborne particulates, droplets, and aerosols that can cause serious illness. 

NIOSH Approved N95 Respirators

NOISH approved disposable n95 respirator

An N95 respirator, approved by NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) that meets filtration efficiency level per 42 CFR 84.181.

Surgical N95 Respirators

Disposable FFR used in a healthcare setting. Particularly worn by Healthcare Providers (HCP) during procedures to protect both the patient and HCP from the transfer of microorganisms, body fluids, and particulate material. At an N95 filtration efficiency level per 42 CFR 84.181. Surgical N95 respirators are regulated by FDA. Similarly, they are either a class II device that is exempt from premarket notification requirements, or is a class II cleared device.

Your choice of face mask is important. Minimize contamination. Reduce exposure. Find cost-effective and efficient filtration for infection control in health care, and anywhere!

Make sure to get the right kind of face mask or respirator for your needs. Wearing the wrong kind of protection can be like not wearing any at at all. Need help? Get in touch! We’ll be glad to assist in your selection.

Harmony Lab & Safety Supplies

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What you should know: Face Shields, Masks, and Coronavirus

Shields could be the answer for some professionals who require more protection from Coronavirus.

Face Shields are a growing part of hospital protocol, and some infectious disease professionals are calling for greater adoption outside medical settings.

How do Face Shields protect from Coronavirus?

Unlike face masks that protect the nose and mouth, shields may also keep the virus from entering through the eyes.

The new coronavirus spreads mostly through droplets expelled from an infected person coughing, sneezing, or talking. A shield cover the eyes, mouth and nose; the areas of potential infection. Shields cover more of the face than masks, so infected droplets are less likely to land anywhere near your eyes, mouth or nose.

Face Shields protect against Infectious Droplets

Shields block droplets, which are larger particles that drop to the floor due to gravity, but not aerosols, smaller particles that may linger in the air when exhaled during a dental procedure or intubation.

A face shield can be a good option for additional coverage. Eye protection could result in a large reduction in virus infections and provides additional protection to mask wearers. In health care settings, eye protection has shown to reduce risk compared with no eye protection, but more evidence is needed.

Shield Shift: PPE usage moving from Masks to Shields … and here’s why:

Shields alone are widely thought to be just as effective in preventing an infected person from infecting others. Though guidance is offered to use face shields in conjunction with face masks until more research is available. Droplets can go out the side of shields and risk infection.

Face Shields can be easier to wear for prolonged periods, especially for those with breathing problems. Shields can help stop the outbreak, and are less restrictive than face masks.

It makes sense to pair shields with masks for added protection for medical professionals, first responders, service workers, personal trainers, barbers, dentists, and others who work closely with people.

Wrap-Around Face Shield Visor for more Protection

How to choose the best Face Shields:

  1. Waterproof, clear plastic material
  2. Shield extends below the chin and reaches to the ears
    • Ideally a wrap-around design to minimize exposure out the sides
  3. Fits without gaps at the forehead

How to safely use and handle Coronavirus PPE

Properly taking off personal protective equipment is key to preventing infection. 

  1. Use clean or new masks and shields each time. 

    use clean masks and shields every time

  2. Properly handle and dispose after use. 

    Remove shields without touching the plastic.
    Remove face masks without touching the filter.
    How to safely handle a face mask Copy

  3. Disinfect your hands

    Use soap and water and scrub for 40 seconds.
    wash your hands

  4. Clean and Store

    If reusable, clean with disinfectant spray, alcohol wipe, or rinse with soap and water before putting it away in a place where it cannot get contaminated.
    clean and store

More on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How to wear a face mask
You may also want to read: How to wear a face mask
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Preparing Supplies for Pandemics

Pandemics and wide-ranging outbreaks claim millions of lives, economic meltdowns, affect public health, and disrupt societies. It is not enough to wait for the pandemic to start spreading before taking precautions against large scale outbreaks.  It would help if you got prepared by creating a foundation against the spread.

Effective preparedness of pandemic supplies and complemented efforts will strengthen systems and prevent further spread. In this article, you will learn the key measures to put in place before and during a pandemic.

What to do before a Pandemic

First of all, don’t panic. The sound of the word pandemic may be scary, but it doesn’t mean it cannot be contained. It is good to be prepared to avoid short notice rush.  Here are some things you could do before a pandemic occurs.

  • Make plans of what measures you will take in case your family members are affected.
  • Store up additional stock both foodstuff and health care prevention products
  • Stock up essential drugs as prescribed
  • Create easy access to details of your medical records and personal health

Health Care Plans to Consider During a Pandemic

When there is an outbreak in your community, you need to take measures to limit the spread of germs by practicing good hygiene. It will help prevent infection.  As much as you may want to avoid contact with the infected people, it would be best if you had practical measures. Below are the health care items that you will need.

Health Pandemic Supplies

Disinfectant Cleaners

Disinfectant Cleaners, Wipes, and Sprays

Disinfection is the use of chemicals to kill germs on surfaces.  It protects against infection during a pandemic, which lowers the risks of spreading the virus. It can be used at home, in the hospital, and even in a market place. 

You need to be patient when disinfecting surfaces because some disinfectants take time to penetrate the surface for effective results. The concentration and temperatures of the disinfectants are different, depending on the type you are using. You need to study the manufactures recommendations before using the chemicals carefully.

Protective Gloves

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Disposable Gloves in Latex, Nitrile, Vinyl, and Poly

You need to wear gloves during a pandemic to avoid contact with bodily fluids, blood, excretions, or contaminated surfaces. Your gloves need to be clean all the time. Change them after every task on every patient. You may change gloves more than two times on one patient, depending on how long the treatment takes. It is because some gloves may contain a high concentration of microorganisms.

Two major factors to consider when choosing gloves are; barrier protection and allergen content. Maximize its effectiveness by choosing reliable and experienced glove manufacture. You will be sure of the good quality of the gloves and constant availability.

Cleaning Supplies

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All-Purpose Cleaning Supplies and Wipes

Cleaning supplies help in the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities, which lowers the risk of spreading germs during a pandemic. There need to be practical routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces to avoid spread. Some of the cleaning supplies you need are;

  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Abrasive cleaners
  • Liquid detergents
  • Wipes

Face Masks

Disposable and reusable cotton face masks and face shields - harmonycr.com
Disposable Face Shields, Reusable Cotton Face Masks

Using face masks in public reduces the spread of infection. They minimize the excretion of respiratory droplets from infected people. Consider using face masks in congested places such as the market, public transport, etc.

Two types of face masks include, medical and non-medical. Prioritize the use of medical masks because it reduces the risks of transmission to zero, as compared to non-medical ones.

Disposable Gowns

Disposable Isolation Gowns

Gowns are used by hospital patients. They give easy access to the medical staff for the part of the body to be treated. Types of hospital gowns you need include;

  • Open Back gowns
  • Tie closure gowns
  •  IV gowns
  • Dignity Gowns
  • Snap closure
  • Disposable gowns

 Respirators

Dust Masks and Respirators

A respirator is a protective tool designed to protect people from inhaling hazardous air. The device covers the mouth and face, and in most cases, they cover the whole face of the entire head.  Types of respirators include;

  • Air purifying
  • Airline respirators
  • Hoods or helmets
  • Tight-fitting half masks
  • Breathing apparatus

A quote from Helene Munson says, “Behind the mask beats a loving heart, willing to save others.”

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Effective COVID-19 Testing Swabs by Puritan

How to Collect a Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimen

When conducting diagnostic swab testing for COVID-19, CDC recommends nasopharyngeal swabbing. Regardless if the patient is symptomatic, specimens should be collected as soon as possible with testing swabs once PUIs are identified.

If you’ve conducted flu tests, swabbing for COVID-19 testing is the same process.

Puritan’s 7 Steps for Taking a Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimen

  1. Wash hands and wear appropriate PPE such as disposable gloves, isolation gowns, and face masks.
  2. Remove sterile swab from package.
  3. Tilt patient’s head back to straighten nasal passage.
  4. Insert swab straight back horizontally to the nasopharynx until you meet resistance.
  5. Rotate swab up to 5 times and hold in place 5-10 seconds to collect sample.
  6. Place swab into the viral transport medium and break off handle where indicated.
  7. Cap, label with patient information, and deliver to lab for testing.

We recommend using Puritan’s UniTranz-RT Transport System and PurFlock Ultra swab for COVID-19 testing.

To find more tips and helpful information visit the Puritan COVID 19 resource portal.

Puritan Medical Products. “COVID-19 Testing: How to Collect a Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimen.” COVID-19 Testing: How to Collect a Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimen, Puritan Medical Products, 8 Apr. 2020, blog.puritanmedproducts.com/how-to-collect-a-nasopharyngeal-swab-specimen.

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How to Avoid Germs This Flu Season

Ways to Avoid Germs this Flu Season

Germs are a concern year-round, especially in shared environments like workplaces. Yet, during flu season, it’s particularly important to avoid picking up any germs. According to the CDC, flu viruses can range in severity from mild to severe, and for more than 4,600 people per year, they’re even fatal.

The flu is most dangerous for elderly individuals, pregnant women, children, and people with certain preexisting medical conditions. With that being said, even people in excellent health can become severely ill from particularly strong strains of the virus. Since no one wants to spend days (or in some cases, even weeks) feeling their worst, there are a few tips you can implement to keep flu germs at bay in your family, workplace, and community:

Talk to Your Doc . . .

They’ll likely recommend the flu shot for you and your family members – it’s the single best way to prevent contracting the illness. Only a select portion of the population – including those who have had severe allergic reactions to the vaccine – should avoid flu shots. However, it’s always a good idea to get a professional’s opinion. Also, keep in mind that flu vaccinations wear off over time. The vaccine is updated each year to reflect current strains, so be sure to follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your physician.

. . . Don’t Consider Yourself “Immune”

If you’ve received a flu vaccination, it doesn’t mean you’re completely immune to contracting the virus. In fact, the CDC reports the risk of contracting the flu is reduced by 40-60% in patients who receive the vaccine. The overwhelming majority of medical experts still consider it worth getting, but know that it protects against certain strains than others. This means you’ll still need to take precautions to avoid falling ill, so keep reading even if you’ve received or plan to receive a flu shot.

Encourage Employees to Stay Home

The best way to keep flu germs out of the workplace is to prevent infected employees from bringing them in. If you manage a team or oversee a business, encourage your personnel to stay home when they’re feeling under the weather. Most strains are highly contagious, and can even be contracted when you breathe in a flu aerosol particle from ten feet away!

Wash Hands Regularly

There are certain environments – such as your home and personal work space – which you can control and keep clean. In public environments, however, you’re bound to come into contact with flu viruses at one point or another. To limit your exposure, wash your hands often, and always before eating or touching your face. When you’ve come into contact with frequently-used public objects, like cafeteria trays, ATMs, and door handles, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.

Limit the Spread of Infection

Fight viruses with the Curad Anti-Viral Face Mask

Most doctor’s offices now provide face masks in the patient waiting area, which should be donned by potentially infected visitors. If you own or manage a healthcare facility, keep an ample supply of anti-viral face masks on hand for the flu season. Nurses and doctors may also wish to put on face masks before treating potentially infected patients to reduce their risks of contracting the illness. Also, keep in mind the virus can be spread up to seven days before a person exhibits symptoms. Thus, it’s a good idea to avoid sharing straws, makeup products, and similar objects with others.

Keep Your Spaces Clean

Wipe away germs with CleanTex Phone Wipes

According to a Clorox survey, 41% of workers say they rarely – if ever – disinfect their desks. Your cubicle and similar personal spaces can harbor countless germs, so taking extra precautions to keep them clean during flu season is essential to your wellness. From your cubicle to your household, wipe down surface areas often to keep germs at bay. Keep office environments well-stocked with cleaning supplies which can be used safely on electronics like touch-screen computers and keyboards. Use CleanTex Phone Wipes for desk equipment and phones and use CleanTex Clean and Safe wipes or Purell Sanitizing Hand Wipes for your hands.

Cover Your Cough

If you do get the flu or feel like it could be coming on, be sure to cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. Afterwards, clean your hands to prevent passing your germs onto any surface areas. The flu virus isn’t just spread by airborne respiratory droplets; it can also be passed by skin-to-skin contact and by touching a contaminated surface. Leave a germ-free surface by cleaning with disinfectant wipes.

Practice Healthy Habits

Eating a nutrient-rich diet is a great way to boost your body’s immunity, but many individuals still fall short in certain vitamins and minerals. Talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin to stay as healthy as possible, and be sure to get plenty of sleep. If you do contract the flu, stay hydrated and seek medical attention if any symptoms become extreme.

Keep your office environment clean this flu season by stocking up on disinfecting wipes, sanitizers, anti-viral face masks and more through Harmony. We have everything you need to stop germs in their tracks. Visit our online storefront for a full list of products, or get in touch with a product specialist for assistance.

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How to Wear a Disposable Face Mask

How to wear a face mask
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Breathe Safely with Face Masks

In many work environments, face masks are critical for keeping employees safe against breathing in toxins, contaminants, or other harmful particles in the air. While wearing one is second-nature for many associates, if you’re new to the practice, it can feel unfamiliar at first.

Ensuring a proper fit isn’t just essential to your comfort; it’s also critical to keeping you and your fellow employees safe and healthy. Here, we go over the basics of wearing a face mask properly to ensure safe breathing.

1. Prep

One aspect of wearing a face mask properly begins before you even put it on. In order to prevent germ transfer in a cleanroom setting, you must first clean your hands using antibacterial soap to keep the mask sterile/clean. If there’s no hand soap within reach, use alcohol disinfectant instead.

2. Place It

face mask placement

Before bringing the mask up to your face, make sure you’re holding it so that it’s facing the right direction. The top portion of the mask should have a bendable edge, which you’ll fit against your nose for a secure seal. Additionally, either side of the mask should have ear loops, which, as their names suggest, you’ll placed behind each ear. The loops on ear masks are elastic and thus designed to stretch for a comfortable fit with all face shapes. There are also tie style face masks instead of elastic ear loop face masks.

Some face masks also have eye shields to protect your eyes from coming into contact with hazardous fluids or objects. The shield components of these masks should fully cover your eye area. These protective shield face masks also feature fog-resistant panes to ensure clear vision while you’re working.

Once you’ve secured the ear loops or ties, you may also wish to adjust the top edge so that it sits more comfortably and securely against your nose and face. Make sure both your nose and mouth are fully covered by the mask.

3. Double Check

After the mask is secure, check the sides of it for any escaped air. While most designs with ear loops prevent air from escaping, you may have to press the sides against your face with some types of masks for a snug fit.

4. Breathe THIS Way

inhale through your nose exhale through your mouth

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you can breathe with ease with your mask firmly secure. Yet, it’s important to be mindful of your breath while you have your mask on, as there’s a certain way of breathing used by professionals who wear masks in clean environments. To ensure safe and comfortable breathing, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Your nose traps any contaminants in your cilia (the tiny hairs within your nostrils) to prevent them from entering your body. The mouth is better for exhaling, as it helps you release all of your air more efficiently.

5. Remove with Care

Once you’re done wearing the mask, be careful to touch only the ear loops or ties as you remove it. Dispose of it in the designated receptacle and wash your hands again.
There are many styles of disposable face masks available for different applications.. To find the right option to suit your business’s needs, browse through our selection online.