You’ve likely heard of N95 masks in the context of their use on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. These masks are powerful devices that help protect the wearer from inhaling dangerous particles, including the virus itself.
But what makes the N95 mask so special, and did you know they are also commonly used in the construction and manufacturing industry, including our own Central Texas asphalt plants? That’s why, during this unprecedented period, we are donating our surplus N95 masks to medical professionals in need.
What is an N95 mask?
N95 respirator masks are made from polypropylene material that is very effective in capturing airborne particles before they reach the nose and mouth. The ‘N’ in N95 refers to the term “non-oil,” which signifies that it can be used in a work environment in which no oil-based particles are present. The ‘95’ signifies a 95% efficiency in filtering out contaminants, which can include harmful dust, fumes and other particulates.
Because of these attributes, and because they are individually fit-tested with the wearer, the N95 mask is far more effective than surgical or fabric masks in filtering out particles, including the COVID-19 virus.
N95 masks are evaluated, tested and approved by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which is part of the CDC.
How are N95 masks used in construction?
In the construction and manufacturing industry, N95 respirators are commonly used to protect workers against silica dust, which is quartz that is found in nearly all rock, sand and soil. The silica becomes airborne in the process of grinding, cutting, drilling, or crushing rock, concrete, and other building materials.
Silica dust is extremely harmful if inhaled and can cause life-threatening damage to the lungs. At Texas Materials, TexasBit, Texas Concrete, and Gulf Coast, our teams constantly monitor our hot mix asphalt and ready mix concrete plants, aggregate operations, and work sites for the presence of silica dust, and ensure all protective measures are taken to avoid exposure.
As concrete and asphalt suppliers, the N95 mask is one tool in our arsenal, but there are several methods we employ to combat silica dust and other dangerous particles. Our safety professionals and superintendents are hyperaware of conditions on our asphalt paving projects, quarry operations, and asphalt and ready-mix concrete plants, and take every precaution in order to protect our employees and the public.
N95 masks are key to the fight against COVID-19
N95 respirator masks are essential to the healthcare field for the same reasons as the construction industry – they protect the wearer against harmful airborne particles. Our nation is currently experiencing a serious shortage in essential medical equipment, including N95 masks, that our healthcare workers need in order to protect themselves and others while treating COVID-19 patients.
Texas Materials is proud to join companies from all over the construction and manufacturing industry in donating surplus N95 masks from our stock to local healthcare workers in the Austin area. Every mask donated will make a difference in helping contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protecting the healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line for others. It’s a small but important step in helping our country get through this together.