N95 filtering respirators are designed to filter 95% of the airborne particles. They are also intended for single use. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these filtering respirators are in short supply forcing people for consider reuses of these safety products to maintain protection in public places. While there is limited data on safe decontamination and reuse of particles, you can try them to disinfect your mask.
The possible risk and benefits of these safety products may vary significantly across locations and also evolve rapidly during a crisis. It is ideal to find a reliable personal protective equipment supplier for buying N95 respirators, gloves, disposable masks, hand sanitizer, and many others. An individual should also recognize both the ability to filter and fit the respirators to know about use and reuse. Below, I’m going to share some important things that you should know for proper N95 face mask use for respiratory protection preparedness.
Methods that You can Use for Reusing Respirators
There are some methods that decontaminate your respirator but may also leave some residual virus, including:
1. 70-75% Ethanol Bath Followed by Drying
Ethanol has been found to be helpful in viral decontamination after at least 10 minutes of exposure. So, you can use ethanol for decontaminating your respirator. But after a single decontamination cycle, the filtration efficiency of the N95 respirator fell below.
Recommendation: Ethanol bath is not a safe method for decontamination. After a single decontamination cycle, it may result in non-protective masks.
2. Dry Heat at 70oC
Another method that you can use to disinfect your mask is dry heat at 70oC. 60 minutes of heating at 70 degrees Celsius is effective in viral decontamination of the respirator mask. But, it may also leave some residual virus nonmetal surfaces. This method is preserved for up to two disinfect cycles.
Recommendation: Convection heating at 70 degrees Celsius is effective and also yields a reusable mask. But this process should not be used more than twice on an N95 mask.
15 minutes at 121 degrees Celsius is also effective for disinfecting the mask. This process can be safely used for a single decontamination cycle, but the ability to use this approach for more than one cycle depends on the mask.
However, the data is limited, available information shows that COVID-19 can persist on an inanimate surface for up to 72 hours. And the ineffectiveness of the virus on infected surfaces at any time interval is unknown. So, it is ideal to cycle through the mask where each respirator gets at least 72 hours of non-use after a single-use.
For this, you should start the first day with four masks. Use mask no. 1 on the first day and store it in a dry place for 3-4 days and reuse it after at least 72 hours.
5. UV Light
UV light method is also an effective process for disinfecting your respirator. The 60 minutes of UV light exposure can effectively decontaminate the mash though the metal portion needs 10 minutes. This method is preserved for up to three decontaminated cycles.
Consideration That You Should Take for Wearing Your Mask
- You should properly place your mask over your nose and under your chin. If your mask has two straps, then place one strap above the ears and one strap below.
- If your mask has a nose clip, mold it firmly against your nose and face using your fingertips from both hands.
- It is important to conduct a user seal check whenever you put on the mask.
- Remove your mask, when it becomes dirty, more difficult to breathe, and damaged.
- You should avoid touching the front of your respirator, because it may be contaminated.
- Always keep your mask clean and dry and also read the manufacturer’s recommendation on use and storage.
These are some important things that you should consider for proper use for respiratory protection. You can find one of the best personal protective equipment suppliers for buying an N95 mask, disposal mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, and many others.