The shortage of personal protective gear during this pandemic has precipitated a wide range of different solutions for the repurposing of masks with a particular look at the N95 masks (those like KN95 masks). Over a few weeks, there has been a growing influx of useful information that may make it challenging to discern some of the best practices for using masks. Is your N95 reusable?
Therefore, as a lot of significant changes continue to come up regarding how people live life and perform their jobs, there is also a growing shortage of special N95 masks.
The CDC highly discourages people from using these devices as protection against different respiratory diseases. They reiterate that the best way to avoid these diseases is to evade exposure. Respirators are an invaluable healthcare device for workers. But most of these professionals are reusing them based on the fact that having protective gear on is definitely better than nothing.
One major question arises, though: is this the safest way to prevent the spread of this disease? The masks were obviously designed to be disposed of eventually.
Facts About N95 Masks
Based on the information provided by the manufacturers, N95 masks are to be used once. NIOSH does not recommend the decontamination of these masks. However, everyone in the healthcare space recognizes the fact that they are scarce.
Here are the recommendations for using these masks based on clinical as well as institutional resources online.
FDA Guidelines for Use
The Drug and Administration Department insists that these masks are not reusable and, therefore, cannot be shared. Surgical masks, as well as the N95 respirators, are made in such a way that they can block particles from penetrating into your mouth. The surgical masks do not filter all smaller particles found in the air.
The masks don’t seal well around your face to provide enough protection in any way. The name 95, in this case, comes from the initiative of testing where the respirator ends up blocking 95 percent of the 0.4 micro-sized particles within the scene.
If damaged, you shall be exposed to bacteria and viruses. In that perfect scene or scenario, your N95 mask must be removed and then disposed of carefully, followed by appropriate hand washing.
CDC Guidelines on Extended Use of N95 Masks
The CDC has its guidelines when it comes to using N95 masks. But unfortunately, one of the best-case scenarios is not always the one people must work with. Amid this healthcare crisis, tough decisions must be made. Healthcare professionals have received some guidelines from the CDC.
One of them being extended application of N95 masks is highly recommended when it comes to handling respiratory pathogens. For that reason, healthcare personnel should wear the same mask for various patients before removing it. But this is only as long as the mask fits securely. If the mask fits well, then it can be worn for about 8 hours.
This depends on the user’s environmental conditions. You should know that it is the appropriate time to change your N95 mask when you can no longer breathe comfortably.
Although, for years, we have been leaders in the healthcare space, we highly recommend that you follow the expert guidelines for updated information regarding N95 masks. The CDC website is an ideal place to look into. You can direct all urgent questions to the docket.