Particulate Respirator Mask to Prevent COVID-19: FSA Eligibility
What are particulate respirator masks?
Particulate respirator masks are loose fitting devices that create a physical barrier between the wearer's face and the breathable environment. They typically cover the wearer's mouth and nose to prevent inhalation of environmental particles that would negatively affect the wearer. Particulate respirator masks are normally used, and properly labeled, for different medical procedures such as surgery or dentistry. Particulate respirator masks are also used to protect wearers with specific medical conditions that might render them extraordinarily vulnerable to common environmental hazards. For example, a wearer with a weakened immune system might be at increased risk of infection during flu season while out in public, and a particulate respirator masks would help protect them from becoming infected. A wearer might also carry an infectious disease which the particulate respirator masks helps in preventing that disease from spreading (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Disposable face masks are rated to filter different sizes of particles. The measurement unit is typically microns. Airborne bacteria, viruses, and fungal spores each range in size, so the hazard must be assessed in terms of what type of face mask is worn. Face masks should be thrown away securely after use, or after soiling by the environment or the wearer's breath moisture and lung secretions.
Particulate respirator masks should be worn after washing the hands and face, and usually have elastic bands that can be wrapped around the ears to retain the mask in place. It's important to verify, as well, which side of the mask is the front, and which is the top or bottom. Some masks will have a bendable metal clip which can fold over the nose to further help with retention.
Particulate respirator masks are eligible for reimbursement with a consumer-directed healthcare account. They come in several varieties and the most commonly purchased and used variety is the "N-95" rated respirator mask. The N-95 designation is a rating that denotes N for "not resistant to oil," and 95 for its ability to filter at least 95% of airborne particles during worst-case testing.