Warning - there's a lot of words in here, and a fair amount of technical information. If you just want a mask and trust that Cactus has, for 28 years, done the right thing for it's customers, then feel free to just go ahead and buy one of our masks. If you want more information, read on.
We're really keen for consumers to be more aware of the minutiae of face masks, especially given some pretty unscrupulous claims from various suppliers.
So, with that said, prepare to be informed.
Six months ago, no one had ever heard of N95: it was an arcane concept known only to industrial folks and standards testers. Today, N95 is all the rage. So what does N95 actually mean?
An N95 mask or N95 respirator is a particulate-filtering face piece respirator that meets the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health N95 classification of air filtration, meaning that it filters at least 95% of airborne particles. In other words, 95% of particles below 0.3 microns, won't get through the device.
N95 actually has two parts, however, and this is where things get tricky. The first is whether the filter/mask block that 95% figure. That part is easy. The second part is more difficult and is a face fit test where the individual dons the mask and testing is done to ensure that air is not able to enter the mask from the sides.
Other sewn fabric masks
There are a large number of fabric masks for sale in New Zealand and around the world. We are well aware that many are not helpful in that they do not block viruses and bacteria. International testing has cast doubt on how effective a simple fabric mask actually is to stop the spread of viruses. It is for this reason that we are being completely transparent about the mask that we make.
Now onto Cactus' mask
Our filter medium has been tested by an in-house lab to block 99% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. In other words, our filter far exceeds N95-standard. It has not been independently certified as N95, however, since independent labs who perform this test don't exist here in New Zealand.
It is for this reason that we're selling this mask as a consumer device. We are comfortable that it exceeds N95 by a wide margin, but regulations mean that we cannot call the mask Personal protective Equipment (PPE).
We focused on performance
The wool filter we use is designed to be more than twice as easy to breathe through than standard masks. This is very important since most N95 masks are very difficult to breathe through. In addition, we have spent time ensuring that our mask is able to be fitted to a wide variety of face sizes and shapes. We've designed it to seal snugly around the face for superior protection and it includes an adjustable nose-wire to form a protective seal.
A reusable mask
People are easily confused by disposable, reusable and replaceable filters and masks. For clarification, the filter in our mask is sewn into the mask itself. We made it this way to ensure that the filtration extends entirely across the mask - with removable filters there is the risk that the filter bunches up, leaving an unprotected section of the mask.
The filter medium will last a very long time. Obviously, if you're working in a very dusty environment, or where there are significant particle loads (a fireground for example) the filter may become clogged. However, in normal use, we are confident the filter will outlive the mask itself. However, for the sake of clarity, if it becomes difficult to breathe through the mask, you can consider the filter has clogged and hence the mask should not be used.
To clean the face fabric (is the lining fabric on the inside and outside of the mask) we recommend using a small amount of hand sanitiser or a medical alcohol prep pad and just wiping it.
So, to be completely clear, do not wash this mask. The care card which comes with each mask has more details.
Why no returns?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept returns for face masks for sanitary reasons.