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Comparing the Costs of Disposable Masks vs. Reusable Respirators

Don’t be confused by the initial low cost of disposable masks. Learn why reusable respirators are likely a better option.

When looking to purchase respirators for your workplace a variety of factors must be considered to determine the best solution. The value you receive from different types of masks can vary in terms of ROI in both the short-term and long-term. While some products may be more expensive to buy upfront, they may be less costly to maintain in the long run. Hidden costs and the effectiveness of the masks must also be taken into consideration as well. Let’s compare the benefits and drawbacks of disposable and reusable options to help you make the right decision based on your needs.

Disposable Masks

Surgical Masks

    Surgical masks have been around since the Civil War. While they may be the cheapest to purchase, they must be disposed of regularly – which can add up to significant costs for your organization over the long-term. While these products can help reduce the spread of airborne infectious diseases from an infected, coughing wearer to those in their proximity,  such masks offer little respiratory protection for the wearer and are essentially “one-way, splash-guards”.  While some of these can be laundered and re-used, this doesn’t make up for their primary effectiveness; it just lowers the cost of repeated use.

    Disposable N95s

      Developed in the 1950’s, N95s are lightweight and relatively comfortable to wear but they should be fit-tested before using to ensure proper protection. These filtering facepiece respirators filter out particles in the air, but do not protect against non-particulate hazards such as gases or vapors. They cannot be used in clean rooms or sterile areas. Like surgical masks, the upfront costs of these products are particularly low; however, they are considered “single use” and thus the long-term cost can add up considerably.

      Reusable Masks

      Elastomeric, Half-Face Masks

        First developed in the early 1900s for the mining industry, half-facepiece elastomeric respirators are used to filter inhaled air using replaceable filters. If equipped with proper cartridges, they can also filter out gases and vapors effectively – unlike the N95s. The mask itself is relatively inexpensive, but the filters it requires are only meant to be used for about 40 hours, and they are quite expensive. Additionally, these tight-fitting, plastic respirators make communication difficult..

        Octo Safety Devices

          The Octo Respirator is an innovative, reusable respirator that is fully autoclavable (or boilable), and features a powerful biocidal filter for excellent pathogenic protection. Additionally, the Octo Respirator is ultra-lightweight, has a super-comfortable silicone facial seal, and it enables easy communication.

          The Octo Respirator is highly-effective and very affordable, due to its re-usability  resulting in substantial savings in the long run after a relatively low upfront investment as well.

          Make the smart choice

          While we obviously favor the Octo Respirator as the ultimate solution for protection and comfort, we encourage you to do your research and make an informed decision about whatever the respiratory protection you ultimately choose. It is, after all, intended to keep you healthy and even potentially save your life, and it shouldn’t be selected based on any one factor alone.