P2 Masks vs N95 Masks: What is the difference?

Readtime 10 : Gerry Suckling : Jul, 22, 2024

Dust masks for dust, yes, but dust masks for desks! Whoever would have thought we'd be wearing face masks in everyday life! Leaving the house in 2020 is like; Phone? Yes. Wallet? Yes. Car keys? Yes. Face mask? Yes!

However, there is confusion around the differences between the types of dust masks, particularly between the P2 dust masks and the N95 dust masks. Not all dust masks are created equal, and you need to be sure you have the right one for your application. 

The P2 and N95 masks are a very similar type of half-face respirator designed for the same purpose, to protect the wearer from airborne contaminants. However, the certification is to different standards. 


P2 Masks - Australian and New Zealand Standards

A 'P' rating typically categorizes the disposable face mask or respirator worn in the construction and building industry. The 'P' refers to the particulate matter's particle size that the respirator is designed to protect the wearer from inhaling.

The Australian and New Zealand standards for Respiratory Protective Devices are AS/NZS1716. It rates respirator filters for particulate hazards into three classes: P1, P2, and P3. 


N95 Masks

The N95 term is an American/Canadian classification written by NIOSH. (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) 

'N' rated masks are the most common in the US and are suitable for any dry dust—coal, metallic dust, flour, wood, pollen, and water-based aerosols. 

The number indicates the percentage of when tested against very small, difficult to filter, particles:

  • N95 respirators remove at least 95% of airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns
  • N99 respirators remove at least 99% of 0.3-micron particles
  • N100 respirators remove at least 99.97% of 0.3-micron particles


N95 masks are very similar to P2 masks and feature only very slight differences. The difference is due to the different testing and certification practices between Australia / New Zealand and the United States.


Intex supplies P1, P2 and P3 respirators as well as the medical type. Following is a comparison between the N95 and the 'P' types, highlighting the very slight differences. 

Class Code P1 No equivalent NIOSH classification
Filtration rate Filters at least 80% of airborne particles.  
Suitable for Suitable for relatively large particles (>1 micron) generated by mechanical processes, eg. grinding, sanding, drilling, sawing, mining.
Has a low to medium absorption capacity filter.
Class code
Filtration rate
Filters at least 94% of airborne particles.
Filters at least 95% of airborne particles
Suitable for In addition to the above, particles generated by mechanical and thermal processes. This class of filters has a higher capture efficiency to deal effectively with smaller, thermally generated particles like sub-micron sized welding fumes or fertilizer.
P2 filters can also capture biologically active airborne particles under specified conditions and are recommended for specific infection control applications (e.g. SARS, TB or other infectious diseases). Has a medium absorption capacity filter.
Class code
Filtration rate
Filters at least 99.95% of airborne particles
Filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles
Suitable for In addition to the above, highly toxic particles, eg. organophosphate insecticides, radionuclides, asbestos.
Has a high absorption capacity filter. Nevertheless this can only be achieved in a full face respirator

Good Fit

Three Key Points:

The importance of getting a good fit - the dust mask's effectiveness depends on a snug fit to the wearers face. The wearer will easily breathe in contaminants if the respirator is loose or poor fitting. 

Medical face masks - the loose-fitting, disposable type medical masks don't provide the same level of protection as a N95 or P2 Respirator. These masks are designed to prevent the wearer from expelling body fluids into the environment. They are not tight fitting and don’t provide a good seal to the face, therefore there is plenty of potential for air leakage around the edges of the mask. They do not offer suitable protection from outside airborne contaminants and are not a substitute for N95 or P2 masks.

Make the right choice - there is the right mask for the job and the wrong masks for the job! Choosing the correct respirator is critical for your safety and the safety of others around you. If you have any questions, ensure you contact your health and safety representative for further guidance. 


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View Intex Dust Mask range here