Surgical masks?

Ok…so the place where I volunteer is now requiring “surgical masks”….no more cloth masks.

So…I went to the store to buy some….all of the blue “paper” pleated masks clearly say “not medical”.

So….I’m guessing these are not surgical masks, right? Wouldn’t surgical masks be “medical”.

I’m also guessing they don’t know the difference!

So what should I wear tomorrow. I do have a KN95 here I can use.

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definitely kn95, go online and order from dementech, they sell excellent medical grade surgical masks.

i am also a huge fan of the kf94 from vida and will start wearing those in my office


I assume they are using “surgical mask” as an all-encompassing term to mean a non-cloth disposable mask.

The KN95 exceeds the surgical mask standard


The CDC states that surgical masks are another name for disposable masks.

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Here in New York City, people had been saying “surgical mask” when they mean the blue paper masks. A clean, brand new one is considered less porous than a cloth one and I never used to pass up a chance to grab a free one when they were available.

Lately, people have had to differentiate between them and the N95s which are now considered the gold standard for indoor gatherings. Mind you, it wasn’t that long ago that the N95s were considered overkill, but since Omicron, they have become ubiquitous. People just call them “N95s” and that includes the KN95 versions.

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I just bought D surgical masks to take to school next month. She has a hard time with the KN95 (lots of hills). Some of my research led me to see that not all surgical masks are medical grade. You should look for ASTM level 2 or 3 masks.
We bought these

I did clarify…and that is exactly what they mean…

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Not that anyone cares, but for a little fun history/clarification, a surgical masks tie. The ear loop masks are called procedure masks.

ASTM 1,2, or 3 are all really fine if you don’t want a N95/KN95/KF94. The higher levels just resist fluid more.

My 3 favorite masks, in order, are 3M Aura N95/NIOSH (any version), Halyard Fluidshield N95, and Prestige Ameritech N95. All are very challenging to find outside of medical supply houses, and even sometimes in short supply or restricted there.

The best alternatives, maybe even better, are Korean KF94 masks with adjustable ear loops. They filter great, don’t have a big pressure gradient, and don’t collapse. The best brands are LG Airwasher, Evergreen Cleantop and Bluna.

Lastly, if you want to turn any good quality surgical or procedure mask into a N95 equivalent filter, chain three rubber bands together. Put the center over your nose and under your chin, but still over the mask. Put the outer bands over your ears.

Hope that’s helpful!

P.S. I’m very leery of Amazon, unless Amazon is the seller. If they are, they’ll be an authorized distributor. If not, LOTS of counterfeits.


Thank you!!


Aaron Collins has done several YouTube videos testing many of the masks and rating them in a spreadsheet, complete with info on where to buy genuine (non-counterfeit) masks. I have found his recommendations excellent.

His videos are AWESOME. I stole my KF 94 recommendations directly from him and his spreadsheets. He usually does bike videos for fun on YouTube, but he’s an aerosols engineer. This is right in his professional wheelhouse. Thanks for giving him the props I didn’t.


We have bought the Sunwoo masks and they are comfortable enough for all of us to tolerate as long as needed while getting excellent protection. We also got the Airgami masks but think our faces aren’t quite right for them ( tho cool concept).

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Although I look relatively normal (lol), I have a really large head. I’ve yet to find a disposable mask that doesn’t cause me pain or even injury. (A KF94 I wore on a cross-country flight actually made the backs of my ears bleed.) I guess I’m going to order some of the adjustable ones if I can find them in stock and hope that they work.

I have exactly the same problem! My head looks normal (maybe my ears are further back?) but standard blue paper masks hurt my ears if I wear them for more than a short time. I foolishly wore one on a plane flight this summer and I had deep red creases in my ears by the time I got to take it off. I usually only wear soft stretchy fabric because of this. I know they’re not as good but the paper ones hurt too much.


I have the opposite problem. The disposable masks are just way too big on me.

Me too. I wear an adjustable 3 ply cloth mask with a filter, and I put the surgical mask over it. I just ordered 5 ply cloth masks and intend to continue with the double mask.

I can’t find a KN95 that is adjustable- i think they will all be too big. I have connectors to keep the mask in place but the whole process turns into a production!

Have you tried ear savers like these?

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I’ve tried those, and also some made by the Velcro company. Neither worked for me, and they are also uncomfortable. I’m apparently a weirdo.

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I tried a different kind…and they just were an added piece of crap to wear…didn’t really help.