How long can an N95 mask be worn for?

The N95 mask is a single-use disposable face mask that is designed for use for up to 8 hours only. That means, the filter efficiency of the N95 mask offering up to 95 percent filtration of virus particles found in air, dust, and smoke is limited for up to 8 hours of direct exposure to the coronavirus and other harmful airborne particles.

However, for healthcare frontline workers in the United States, well, not just in the USA but in other countries worldwide, the reuse of N95 mask supplies has become inevitable. Why so? Well, the reason is that the N95 mask supply has been affected by the N95 mask shortage, coming from the lack of supply from the biggest N95 mask supplier in the world, which is China.

In this article, we will discuss the N95 mask safety rules that apply to the reuse and decontamination of N95 mask supplies. It is the norm during the pandemic that N95 mask supplies are reused for reasons of the N95 mask shortage. Now, because there is a lack of N95 mask supplies coming in, then medical and surgical workers are forced to reuse their stock of n95 masks and reusable n95 respirators.

Now, what are the common N95 mask stocks in use? 3M N95 masks are very popular such as 3M 8511, 1860 N95 mask, and 3M 8210 N95 mask supplies. However, with the lack of an N95 mask supply, other alternatives such as cloth face mask types, kn95 masks, and face shields may be used. Now, for kids, it is crucial that they not be provided N95 mask supplies even during the pandemic yet be forced to stay home.

But just where do you buy the best antiviral face mask for flu protection? If you want the right size and protection, buy online at wholesale or bulk prices. There are many N95 mask uses which can be utilized not just for healthcare but also to combat the flu in workplaces such as construction.

What face mask should be used?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is not just the N95 mask as an option. There are also many other different face mask types that you can use whether you are a sick patient or trying to protect yourself. Here are some examples:

  • Cloth mask- Now, for the general public, the N95 mask is not mandatory. As such, for protection when going outdoors, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth face mask. Where possible, it is best to have a pocket in your cloth mask where you can place a HEPA filter. While there may be difficulty in breathing, a HEPA filter offers 99.97 percent filter efficiency up to 0.3mm of airborne particles.
  • Surgical mask- There is a difference between the N95 mask and a surgical mask. Healthcare workers who are at risk of contracting the disease as they come face-to-face with symptomatic and asymptomatic patients should wear an N95 mask, not just a surgical mask. Now, the reason is the fit and material which are less effective in blocking airborne particles transmitted through sneezing and coughing.
  • N95 respirator- Contrary to the N95 mask, the N95 respirator mask can filter up to 99.9 percent of 0.3 microns viruses and bacteria. However, only frontline workers working directly with patients affected with respiratory infections should have access to the N95 respirator.

Proper disposal of N95 mask

Since knowing that an N95 mask can only be used for up to 8 hours, the proper disposal of the N95 mask should be made known. Now, there are different germs that can live for such duration on an N95 mask. So, to avoid potential health hazards to those who may come in contact with an N95 mask that is contaminated, the N95 mask should be thrown directly in a trash bin and the wearer should wash his or her hands.

If you are using a cloth face mask, it should be washed as soon as possible and air-dried. Then, for those who wear a surgical face mask, be sure that the exposed part of the face mask does not touch your face. Then, you may fold the mask into a roll and wrap it in a polythene bag, waste bag, or tissue paper.

Proper reuse of N95 mask

Now, there are N95 mask supplies that are reused especially by healthcare workers who have no other choice but to reuse an N95 mask to avoid the risk of having no virus protection at all.

The government has decontamination sites for N95 mask sterilization. Hospitals and clinics could take advantage of this fact. Now, cloth masks on the other hand may be reused by washing.

Surgical masks may be dried and placed in a zip lock bag with a desiccated gel that absorbs moisture from the coughing and sneezing of an infected person.

Now, Polypropylene in an N95 mask contains zero moisture. COVID-19 virus can live in metal surfaces for up to 48 hours but lasts up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces and cardboard. So, keep the N95 respirator dry for 3 to 4 hours if you want to reuse it again. N95 mask supplies are best used alternately so keep a stock to use for at least 7 days if you are planning to reuse your N95 mask supplies.

Remember to discard your N95 mask when using aerosol-generating procedures. Further, if you are at risk of contamination of blood, respiratory or bodily fluid secretions, dispose of the N95 mask instead of reusing.

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