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Have several questions about reusable respirators (also, hello!)

2732 Views 30 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Gunn
Hi, I hope this post finds you all well. I'm not sure I'd call myself a prepper but I'm a pretty methodic person and a huge germaphobe so I've been doing my best to prepare for a huge epidemic. Hopefully this won't come to pass in the Americas but one has to be ready for the worst.

Anyway, I'm planning to move to a more rural area than I am in right now and have a few dozen disposable n95 masks for the family. And my dad has a reusable 3m mask that he used for fumigating once (I bought it for him) and several spare filters. So I was wondering if reusable masks can be used during an epidemic.

The reason I'm asking is the disposable ones you can just throw away after each use. Say you go to buy food supplies, you come back home and throw it in the trash. But with the reusable ones, you need to wash them each time you get home from the outdoors, don't you? And what about the cartridges, since they're usually longer lasting, about 40 hours continuous use on them, are we supposed to throw them out after each trip or do we place them in a bag while the facepiece is being cleaned? I'm just worried that the virus could get smared all over the cartridge if it's placed in a bag. Or maybe I'm being paranoid.

Anyways, what is the cleaning protocol for using this more complex type of mask during an epidemic? I'm sure it's a little bit different than what we'd do if we just used the mask for painting since paint will not multiply or infect you if it's not cleaned and stored to perfection.

Thanks so much for any advice!

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View attachment 104201

Proven to inactivate 99.99% of tested strains on five minutes of contact with the surface.
Shown to be effective against seasonal A and B influenza, Pandemic H1N1, H2N2, Avian, Duck, Swine, and Equine flu strains.
According to the packaging, they use two mechanisms for deactivating a virus.
1. An outer layer coated with a 2% solution of citric acid to reduce pH levels
2. An inner layer treated with metal ions (copper 1.6% and zing 1.6%) which form ionic bonds with negatively-charged side groups on influenza viruses

A painter's dust mask might do little to nothing.
But there are some types that are specifically designed to prevent the wearer from receiving infection.
I'm just gonna dip a bandana in orange juice. :)

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Perhaps we would have been better served if adequate stocks were already on hand. Now Washington is all fired up to drastically increase production...... I agree! And if the virus spreads, distribute the masks and instruct the population in proper use.
Not possible. DO THE MATH.

US population - 327+ Million. Lets make this easy. Say only 50Million need a mask.
Gonna want a fresh one daily? Say you work 5/days/week. Everybody else stays home.
That means... we'll need 200 Million masks per week - for the working population.
That's almost 1 Billion masks per month. How long is this need to mask-up going to last?
And - guess where we get the 'materials' to make the masks. ROFL

I applaud your optimism that the gov could actually do this.
Oh...they'll make masks - but you'll never see one.
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I didn't mean stockpiling masks for everyone. I only meant to stockpile enough for the medical community to use in a scenario just like this one. Enough to carry them over until production can ramp up.
Ok - here's some new numbers:

18 Million healthcare workers,
5 days/week, one mask per day,
= 90 Million per week, 360 million per month, 4.3 Billion per year.

Still a pretty large task, especially factoring in distribution, etc.


Healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing over 18 million workers.

(per CDC: )

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I agree with your numbers above. You estimate 1 billion masks a month as unreachable. I'll wager that domestic paper companies are currently producing 1 billion rolls of toilet paper a month. So why is 1 billion masks a month unreasonable?
It might be logistically possible, but it would likely require a nationalization of the pulp product - putting domestic TP producers out of business - and I assure you, that would be seen as a commie plot, and besides - people would then need the masks to wipe their ass.
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Ok. Let's look at this another way. Suppose Washington says "yes, masks are effective and everyone should be wearing one at all times when out in public". In the short term there would be drastic shortages and ridiculous price gouging. And then in 4 to 8 weeks factories would be producing millions a day and selling them at premium prices. Free enterprise capitalism at work! If business sees a profitable market, they will fill the demand.
I want your magic wand. :)
I agree with your numbers above. You estimate 1 billion masks a month as unreachable. I'll wager that domestic paper companies are currently producing 1 billion rolls of toilet paper a month. So why is 1 billion masks a month unreasonable?
Your guess wasn't that far off. I wonder how many masks could be made from one roll's worth of pulp?

Quick google said:
More than seven billion rolls of toilet paper are sold yearly in the United States alone.
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