The COVID-19 pandemic has led to everyone around the world, including the United States, to live in an extraordinary situation. The entire world started to face a previously unknown threat. After six months of self-isolation and states being shut down, things are starting to go back to normal slowly. However, this might come with a new rise in coronavirus cases.
One big problem that has come from the pandemic is the shortage of medical supplies, particularly N95 masks. These disposable face masks, considered the best face mask for virus protection, it’s as scarce and valuable as gold, and healthcare workers and first responders are suffering the consequences. Without them, they’re left unprotected facing the virus directly.
These shortages have led a lot of healthcare workers to start reusing and decontaminating N95 masks, which are not designed to be cleaned or reused. However, certain guidelines and recommendations can help make this practice the most functional as possible. In this article, we’ll discuss everything related to N95 mask decontamination, and which models are the best for this.
Decontamination and reuse of N95 masks
One of the main points of research since the pandemic began has been focused on finding a way to develop a reusable N95 mask, or a way to sterilize and decontaminate used disposable N95 masks. Even though no reusable or cleanable N95 mask is on the market right now, there have been some breakthroughs in this regard.
For example, a study run by the University of Illinois called the Urban-Champaign, made some big progress in the process of cleaning N95 masks. Their results concluded that electric cookers or multi cookers can effectively clean N95 masks, solving one of the most important problems that have come from the pandemic.
According to their results, applying dry heat for 50 minutes inside the electric cooker, can completely sterilize N95 masks without damaging them and altering their antiviral properties. People can use an item they already have at home, which can be either a rice cooker or Instant Pot. This would ensure N95 masks can be reused safely by first responders or healthcare workers in the case of shortages.
The study was done by two civil and environmental engineering professors, and according to them, N95 masks are the main piece of PPE against any airborne particle, that’s why they focused on this particular face mask. By using cooking cycles of 50 minutes at about 100 degrees Celsius, they achieved complete decontamination and no altering of the face mask’s activity.
But, even though this great result can be of extreme help, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also have some recommendations for reusing N95 masks. For example, they say that in these emergencies where N95 masks are scarce, they can be reused more than once but always by the same person, and as long as the face mask is not damaged in any way.
Best models for decontamination
Even though reuse and sterilization of N95 masks aren’t official and completely tested practices, they can be done under very specific circumstances and with the precautions and recommendations of experts and authorities. Our best recommendation is to choose a model that is high quality and very durable, this way the chances of damaging the mask are lower.
Some of the best N95 masks are manufactured by 3M, a highly reputable brand that produces the best quality products. Their 3M N95 masks are some of the most popular items, including models like the 3M 8210 and 3M 8511.
N95 masks are also known as N95 respirators. They’re currently the best face mask for virus protection we have available, and with their antiviral properties are higher than the ones in medical or surgical face masks. This makes them important for protection in healthcare settings and first responders.
The name comes from a respirator classification made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH for short. They regulate respirators in the USA to make sure they’re safe to be used in certain work settings where respiratory hazards are present. These particles can be detrimental to a worker’s health, and certain respirators work better for different settings and particles.
According to the classification, which groups and names respirators based on their filtration efficacy and resistance to oil, N95 masks are respirators that are not resistant to oil and can filter out 95% or more airborne particles in the air. This makes them perfect for dust, smoke, and viruses like the flu or the coronavirus, which are non-oil based airborne particles.
All N95 masks need to be tested and approved by NIOSH to make sure they meet the standards to be considered as such. If a worker uses a counterfeit N95 mask that doesn’t have the proper regulation, they won’t be completely safe and could be inhaling some of those dangerous particles.
We would like to end this informative article reminding our readers to always stay safe and protected in public settings. Protective items like face shields and KN95 masks can be found for sale online easily. You just need to make sure you’re buying from reputable sources.
There are plenty of options to buy in bulk or wholesale, and there are even items in a smaller size for kids, who are not protected by adult-sized face masks. During these trying times, we have to be there for each other, and right now, the best way to do it is by staying protected.