In the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked health havoc around the world. People, as a global community, are facing the worst of the time and their sufferings are still growing. The world’s greatest pharmaceutical companies are working day and night to develop a potent vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2. Many vaccines are now available for the public in almost all countries. However, it is still not certain that these vaccines will protect you against the virus. Healthcare providers still urge people to practice all the precautionary measures like social distancing, wearing a mask, and hand sanitizing.
When it comes to wearing a face mask, N95 masks made in USA are trusted the most. They present one of the safest options and are highly in demand. However, their increased demand has led to many problems like a shortage of N95 masks, fake products being sold in the market, etc. To counter this severe shortage, the CDC has generated some guidelines. For instance, the general public should use surgical masks and N95 masks must be reserved for healthcare personnel. This is because they are more exposed to the virus. Also, the officials have suggested safe measures for extended use or reuse of N95 masks.
But how many times can you use an N95 mask? Is reusing safe and how? These questions must be popping you, right? Well, we have your answers! Keep reading.
Reusing N95 masks
The idea behind reusing the masks is very simple. It depends upon the viral load carried by air around you. If you deal with COVID-19 patients daily, your chances of catching an infection or virus are high because the air around you must be very contaminated. Thus, your max time for using an N95 mask is 7-8 hours. And if you are to use the mask longer than that, you must practice the medically approved guidelines for extended use. What are they? You’ll get to know in the later section.
On the other hand, if you don’t have the above-mentioned condition and have a normal infection rate around you, you can use the N95 masks for days. It is better if you buy washable masks, be it N95 or not, it can help you with longer, safer use.
Strategies for extended use
Some experts have come up with amazing strategies that can help you with a safer use of N95 masks made in USA. If you carry them out carefully, you can use your mask for almost 72 hours even after the maximum time for usage. Note that if you notice that your mask is damaged or soiled anyway, don’t consider it for reuse and dispose it off safely.
Some of the actively investigated mask decontamination strategies by CDC are hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) vaporization, UV treatment, moist heat treatment, and dry heat treatment. All of these treatments work by inactivating the viral load on the mask with no compromise on its filtration capacity, electrostatic charges, and firm fit. If your masks successfully undergo these treatments, they can safely be used for a longer time.
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