How long can you keep using the same N95 mask?

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Omicron Hospitals and healthcare workers continue to be confused Already worn out by Delta. At this point in the pandemic, with the health care system once again teetering on the edge, experts urges people to Ditch their cloth masks in favor of the N95 or KN95 respirators. But these masks are more expensive than surgical masks, and they are not Washable like cloth masks that It leaves many of us asking: Exactly hlong can You are using the same N95?

Here’s what the experts say about reusing respirator masks.

N95s are technically single use

Everything cleared by the FDA Classified as “single-use,” N95 respirators are disposable devices. However, this appointment is being based on the idea of ​​hWho are health care workers? Use these masks for hours at a time; who – which “Not related The use of ” was never intended to describe your quick walk to the grocery store.

With the need for daily use of high-quality masks right now, Experts confirma job N95 or KN95 respirators can actually be worn Multiple times – but can’t be reused indefinitely. wearing himself A mask day in and day out naturally diminishes its ability to do its job.

A workable solution: rotate the masks

“For N95, we recommend that you switch (the mask) every day,” Dr. Sabrina Assumu, MD, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, He told USA Today.

buthere The downside to stocking high-quality masks: the cost. For many, it is unrealistic or impossible to get a new N95 as experts recommend. In this case, you can get a rotating mask system. “If you have three masks (for example), you can number them and swap them”, Asomo said.

This is a method suggested by Peter Tsai way of studying Back in May 2020, when a shortage of personal protective equipment meant that treating patients was an increased risk to health care workers. The study found that three days is enough time for any traces of the virus to wear off the mask. This means that if you were to spin four different types of N95, you would be able to get a theoretically COVID-free mask every day of the week.

Our tip for staying organized –To maintain the effectiveness of the system—is the label or color-Code your different masks and store them In the corresponding paper bags. But why paper bags?

Do not wash N95s; Don’t keep them dry

Should You Toss N95s In The Laundry Or Try Hand Washing Them? most likely not. Instead, your best bet is to let the mask dry — and This is where a paper bag comes in.

Store masks in a paper bag for 24-hours.48 hours between uses A handy way to keep it clean and dry between uses, so you can reHem as securely as possible. “Worrying about wearing a mask in public, obviously, if you get particles on it, maybe even the virus, but if you store it in a dry bag, you’re sanitizing again over a period of time,” Dr. Joe Gastaldo, an infectious disease expert at Ohio Health, said WWL-TV.

However, keep in mind that the bag does not magically sterilize your mask, which can still crawl with other pathogens.. Gary Warren, CEO of Evowatch, a Virginia-based company that manufactures medical-grade N95s, PopSci . said Think of it this way: “Don’t clean your underwear by hanging it on a clothesline for a week and airing it outside.” But after a few days, any existing coronavirus dies.

Furthermore it, The bag will keep your mask away from further contamination, as well as maintain a dry enough environment so that the virus doesn’t spread or linger on the mask.

When is the mask removed from the rotation?

According to the Food and Drug AdministrationIf your respirator is damaged or dirty, or if it breathes while wearing it It becomes difficult, it is time to replace it with a new one. An effective mask depends on its manufacture A proper seal around the nose and mouth, once the nose strip starts to bounce back and can no longer stay in place Or the rubber bands don’t provide as much tension as they used to, throw the N95 away.

What about waste?

If you are concerned (rightly) with the waste that comes with the constant disposal of masks, keep in mind that getting sick and potentially ending up in the hospital also has environmental consequences. CEO of the nonprofit healthcare organization ECRI Marcus Schabaker PopSci . says that if you or someone you have been in contact with are in the hospital,” The amount of waste you create Significantly bigger — I mean, it’s logarithmic in terms of single-use products. Schabaker explains that instead of just You are By using and discarding the mask, it will be everyone who takes care of you over and over again Wear masks, gloves, etc.

Remember: Any mask is better than no mask

WearsA mask is better than not wearing it, so you may want to keep these old cloth masks as a backup option (Ideally Layer over a surgical mask) when a better quality mask is not available. Here is our updated guide To find and buy a high quality mask to replace your mask. USA Today has compiled a helpful list of online sellers here.

The pandemic is constantly evolving, and so is our response to it. Right now, COVID is still on the rise, so do what you can Keep you and others safe with vaccinations (including a booster vaccine) andAsks.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo