CanGardCare outlines the important guidelines related to the extended use of disposable dust masks.
Disposable dust masks or N95’s are customarily utilized in various industries and are considered an essential piece of protective respiratory equipment. According to the United States National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) imposed guidelines, the mask itself is scientifically designed to help mitigate respiratory exposure to airborne pollutants such as particles, gases, and vapors. The N95 mask itself has been tested to block 95% of airborne particles –hence the name.
Although disposable dust masks are not designed to meet repeated use needs, they are regularly reused by many for convenience, supply limitations, and affordability.
This has become especially true in light of the current global circumstances due to the COVID-1 virus, which has once again raised the question as to whether it is acceptable and safe to reuse disposable dust masks during the pandemic. As a result, the NIOSH has explored strategies to conserve disposable protective masks for an extended period to combat the limited supply of N95’s.
The experts at CanGardCare have studied these newly implemented guidelines. They are here to break down NIOSH’s findings to provide you with all the relevant information you need to protect yourselves on the job and out in public.
When is it Safe to Reuse a Dusk Mask?
According to NIOSH, unless the specified duration of usage is otherwise stated by the respirator manufacturer or your employer’s health and safety program, you are safely able to reuse your dust mask if the following is satisfied:
- The mask is not broken
- There are no holes in the mask
- The mask still fits snuggly to the shape of your face
- The mask is free of any dirt or other contamination and is not soiled
- You have not worn the mask for more than eight straight hours
Sharing a Mask is Discouraged
NIOSH also indicates the importance of not sharing your face mask with other employees or your loved ones to minimize the risk of transmitting bacteria. Whether you are at your workplace or home, make sure you have at least one mask per person to ensure that everyone is protected at all times!
How Many Times Are You Able to Use A Mask Before Disposing of It?
This is a question that we get here at CanGuardCare from our customers. The NIOSH has stated that there is no way to accurately quantify the maximum number of times you can wear the disposable mask before switching to a new one. However, as a rule of thumb, and by following the above-noted guidelines, they say that it is dependent on the type of environment at your workplace.
Is It Possible to Disinfect Your Mask?
After conducting extensive research, NISOH results came up inconclusive in terms of decontamination. Therefore, NIOSH indicates no present decontamination protocols to follow to disinfect your face mask before use. However, the institution recommends that users look at the individual guidelines set out by each mask manufacturer.
If the manufacturer has not provided any protocols in disinfecting your mask, NISOH has indicated that third parties such as other safety organizations are allowed to guide decontamination as long as it does not disrupt the integrity performance of the mask.
When Single-Wear Usage is Required
If you are working in an environment with high levels of dust and other containments, they suggest you switch your mask daily, whereas if you are working in a non-dust climate, the allotted amount of time depends on how clean the area is. They also suggest considering where you have worn your mask, for example, in your lunchroom and the bathroom, to determine how often you need to switch your mask.
NIOSH also recommends that you should also avoid reusing your mask when working in bio-safety environments as pathogens can cling to the outside of the mask, which could, in turn, be transmitted to other individuals unknowingly. Remember to change your mask as soon as it begins to lose its protective qualities.
How to Store Your Dust Mask
The NISOH has also recommended new guidelines to help maintain your dust mask’s integrity when it is not in use. Here are conditions to avoid ensuring that you can use your mask for longer before getting another one.
- Keep away from any chemicals or other contaminants
- Keep out of direct sunlight or any other extreme temperatures
- Store the mask away from any dust
- Ensure that the mask is kept away from extreme moisture
Make Sure You’re Prepared Beforehand
Make sure you are fully prepared against respiratory hazards beforehand to avoid any health risks. Here at CanGuardCare, we take pride in supplying a full range of NIOSH approved N95 face masks for your employment and personal needs at an affordable price.