With reuse of N95 respirators in effect at many hospitals, the CDC has issued recommendations that begin with the caveat “there is no way of determining the maximum possible number of safe reuses for an N95 respirator as a generic number to be applied in all cases.”1 Manufacturers may offer some guidance, and the CDC cited several recommendations regarding reuse and discarding N95 respirators:
- Discard N95 respirators following aerosol-generating procedures, contamination with blood, respiratory, or nasal secretions, and after close contact with patients with an infectious disease requiring contact precautions.
- Reduce surface contamination of respirators by placing a cleanable face shield or surgical mask over the respirator.
- Hang used respirators in a designated storage area or keep them in a clean, breathable container such as a paper bag between uses. Ensure respirators do not touch, and that each is clearly labeled with the wearer’s name.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after touching.
- Avoid touching the inside of the respirator. Perform hand hygiene if contact is made.
- Use a pair of clean gloves when donning a used N95 respirator. Discard gloves after the N95 respirator is donned and adjusted.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pandemic planning: Recommended guidance for extended use and limited reuse of N95 filtering facepiece respirators in healthcare settings. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hcwcontrols/recommendedguidanceextuse.html