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How is a respirator different from a surgical mask?
Surgical masks are designed to help reduce patient or health care worker exposures from wearer-generated microorganisms. Fluid resistant masks also help reduce potential exposure of the wearer to blood and body fluids.
Respirators are designed to help protect the wearer from certain airborne contaminants. They also have a snug fit around the face to help avoid leaks where contaminants may enter. Most surgical masks do not have the same filtering capability and typically do not have the same snug fit and, consequently, cannot replace respirators in helping provide respiratory protection. The 1860 and 1870 3M Particulate Respirator and Surgical Masks are both certified as a respirator by NIOSH and are cleared to be used as surgical masks in the OR by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).