What types of masks are acceptable/unacceptable?

Some masks work better than others to help stop the spread of COVID-19. UB recommends following CDC guidance on proper face masks. When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has. Make sure your mask completely covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick. 

Recommended Face Masks:

The following recommendations are for non-health care workers:

  • An N95 or KN95 mask that fits correctly
  • A surgical mask that fits correctly without gaps
  • A surgical mask with a cloth mask on top of it if are you are concerned about the quality and/or fit of the first layer
  • Cloth masks that consist of a filter, sandwiched between two layers of dense fabric, that fits correctly
  • If you wear glasses, masks that fit tightly over your nose (e.g., with nose wires) to limit fogging
  • If you wear a head covering, masks that tie behind your head

Not Recommended:

  • Masks that do not fit tightly over nose and mouth
  • Masks made of non-breathable materials (e.g., leather, plastic)
  • Masks made of loosely woven fabric (i.e., fabric that lets light pass through)
  • Neck Gaiters
  • Face Shields (except for faculty use during lecturing, as approved by UB Environmental Health and Safety)

Not Allowed

  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents, including N95 respirators with exhaust valves
  • Masks containing slits, valves, or punctures
  • Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandanas (if these need to be worn for warmth, they should be worn over the mask, not in lieu of one.)
  • Turtleneck collars pulled up over the mouth and nose

Special Uses

These types of face masks are recommended only for specific use:

  • Face Shields (except for faculty lecturing use only)
  • More information on requesting face shields can be found here. If required for medical reasons a doctor’s note must be provided
  • N95 masks (generally reserved for health care workers)


Updated January 29, 2021

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