Are N95 Respirators Reusable?
N95respirators can be reusable unless it’s not damaged, soiled, or causing noticeably increased breathing resistance. Other factors might be the cost, convenience and lack of supply.
NIOSH offers several guidelines excluding single-use only N95 respirators. There are limitations and guidelines for reuse. The N95 should be worn by only one user. Also, between uses, the respirator should be stored in a way that will be protected from damage, dust, contamination, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and damaging chemicals.
Since most disposable N95 respirators do not have solid frames, they should be stored in ways that will prevent the deformation of the facepiece, straps, and exhalation valve, if there is.
The reuse must stop at the point when the respirator begins to lose its protective qualities.
Just be guided that as long as it is structurally intact and the elastic bands aren't too loose and still gives a perfect seal then it’s safe to reuse.
If you’re reusing your N95 respirator, you can follow these recommended guidelines.
Protect the respirator from external surface contamination when there is a high risk of exposure by placing a medical mask or cleanable face shield over the respirator so as to prevent any surface contamination but not to compromise the device’s fit
Use and store the respirator in such a way that the physical integrity and efficacy of the respirator will not be put into uncertainties.
Practice proper hand hygiene before and after the removal of the respirator and, if necessary and possible, do always disinfect the object used to shield it.
To reuse or not to reuse an N95 respirator will be a personal choice you have to take and make. It would boil down to how much protection and how much threatening is the environment you’re in.
It would also be gauged on the severeness of the harmful airborne particles and viruses that need to be dealt with.
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