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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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The N95 masks will only prevent you from infecting others. It will do nothing to stop a virus. Just some food for thought.
This is from the FDA's website regarding the use of N95 masks-

However, some N95 respirators are intended for use in a healthcare setting. Specifically, single-use, disposable respiratory protective devices used and worn by healthcare personnel during procedures to protect both the patient and healthcare personnel from the transfer of microorganisms, body fluids, and particulate material. These N95 respirators are class II devices regulated by the FDA, under 21 CFR 878.4040, and CDC NIOSH. Subject to certain conditions and limitations, N95s regulated under product code MSH are exempt from 510(k) premarket notification. The FDA has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the CDC NIOSH which outlines the framework for coordination and collaboration between the FDA and NIOSH for regulation of this subset of N95 respirators.

Seems they are saying the protect both the patient and the healthcare provider, which means a person that is not sick and wears one will have protection from a person that is sick. They want the general public to stop buying them because they do not have enough for healthcare providers right now. The biggest issue with using these is the manner in which you don and doff them. If you don't do it properly you can be exposed to the virus. Loose fitting ones are also an issue, think children, they need masks that are made for their smaller face structure. They are made for single use, not multiple uses. Folks that have breathing issues will also have difficulty with them because they do somewhat restrict breathing.

Regarding the OP's question, you would have to be really really thorough in the cleaning of the reusable respirator. I am not sure how you would clean the filter insert without damaging it. If it were me, I would trash the removable filter after use, even though it states it is rated for 40 hours.
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