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Mask types and how to choose them

Ideally, you should wear a medical procedural mask.

Procedural mask

A procedural mask refers to a medical procedural mask or a non-medical procedural mask that is secured behind the ears with elastic loops.

There are two types of procedural masks: the medical procedural mask and the non-medical procedural mask. It is impossible to distinguish medical procedural masks from non-medical procedural masks (disposable masks) based only on their appearance.

Medical procedural mask

Medical procedural masks have undergone testing to certify their effectiveness. To certify the level of quality of a medical procedural mask, the package labelling must include the words medical mask or surgical mask and must indicate that it meets the ASTM F2100 or the Type IIR EN 14683 standard. Some packaging marked “For non-medical use” may also certify the mask’s quality and compliance with the same standards.

Certain masks with a transparent window may also be medical procedural masks.

Medical procedural masks are provided at health care facilities, schools, and should be available in all work environments for as long as required under the Workplace Guide to Sanitary Standards of the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST).

These masks are available at most pharmacies and other retail stores. They can also be ordered online.

Non-medical procedural mask

Non-medical procedural masks are singleuse disposable masks that resemble medical procedural masks but without a declaration of compliance with a recognized standard (ASTM F2100 or Type IIR EN 14683). They are generally identified on the label as being for non-medical use, with no mention of standards.

The effectiveness of these masks varies.

Non-medical procedural masks are available for purchase at pharmacies and other retail stores.

They are generally less expensive than medical procedural masks.

Masks with a clear window

You can wear a mask that has a clear window in order to promote communication with hearing impaired people, people learning the language, people with intellectual disabilities, an autism spectrum disorder or a cognitive impairment, for example. There are a few commercial models of masks with a clear window.

To help you recognize someone who is hearing impaired and to facilitate communication with them, by wearing a mask, see the Mask: how to communicate more effectively with people who are hearing impaired page.

Last update: November 14, 2023


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