The 3 Levels of ASTM Barrier Protection
Face masks help to protect your nose and mouth against splashes/sprays of blood and other bodily fluids, as well as bacteria and particulate matter but do not provide respiratory protection against airborne diseases. Respirators are required for that level of protection (see "Respirators" below). The following levels apply to the amount of protection from fluids/sprays/aerosols that a face mask is able to provide.
level one (standard): low protection
Intended for general use with low-risk, nonsurgical procedures and exams that do not involve aerosols, sprays and/or fluids.
level two (improved): average protection
Intended for general use with possible exposure to low-to-moderate levels of aerosols, sprays and fluids
level three (highest): higher protection
Intended for any situation that has the potential for exposure to heavy levels of aerosols, sprays and fluids.
Respirators are used to filter surgical smoke generated during procedures involving lasers and/or other electric devices. Respirators are also used to provide your nose/mouth with protection from airborne particles. One of the most common respirators is the NIOSH-approved N95, which is used to reduce your risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles (including dust particles and infectious agents). For more information on the difference between face masks and respirators please watch the video below.