In recent months the world has experienced massive change. Today we can’t mingle as we used to. This has also seen the need to use the masks for our protection. Especially when we are out in public.
The masks make it easy to protect yourself against diseases. Naturally, these masks should be discarded the moment you soil them. You should never reuse them anyway unless you have to because there’s a shortage.
Do you know what an N95 mask is?
We have heard a lot about this in recent days, but do you know what the N95 mask is? Well, this is a particulate face filtering mask. It’s meant for filtration of the air. It will filter out up to 95% of the particles that are up to 0.3micron unit size.
Remember, this face filter mask doesn’t filter out the vapor or fluids. Thus use it for mostly air bone-related diseases.
But how long is it effective
The mask is meant to protect you for eight hours. And in this case, we mean you can use it for eight hours nonstop. Nonetheless, you will need to observe how you use it to make sure it’s not soiled.
You should remember to make frequent replacements if you want it to keep you safe. These masks then have a whopping five-year shelf life. This means they will last up to five years from the date of production.
But remember how you store the masks matter. If you don’t store the masks right, then you will reduce its shelf life.
Make sure you keep the masks in their original packages.
Should you reuse the masks?
There are instances when you can reuse the masks. It’s never advisable, but when there’s a shortage, you can reuse the masks.
Over the last few weeks, the US experienced a massive shortage of masks, and at that time, our health workers sort of reusing the mask. Two terms are standard in the healthcare setting today.
Extended use: this refers to the use of the same mask when you are attending to different airborne related disease patients. This means you use the masks for a longer time, sometimes up to 13 hours a day.
Reuse: often, this means that you wear the mask and remove it again when you aren’t attending to a patient but wear it again when you are attending to a new patient. Sometimes the health workers have used the masks more than a day.
Well, this is only workable if it maintains its efficiency, though. If you can prove that the mask isn’t soiled, then you should reuse it.
Nonetheless, if you came into contact with a Covid-19 patient, you should discard the masks.
Also, if you have any respiratory disease, you should consult your doctor to confirm that it’s okay for you to use the mask or not.
If I just remove the mask that I already used then air it outside, can I reuse it?
If you put the mask on an unfriendly environment, the viruses it may have had will die in 24 hours. Nonetheless, we aren’t sure how long the virus will last on the mask. This is why the CDC has always encouraged us not to reuse them.
If there’s a shortage and you have to reuse them, you will have to decontaminate them as per the instructions of the CDC. But you should discard them as soon as you have new ones. Check out the advice from the CDC.
But really, how many times can I reuse the mask?
It mostly depends on how you have been using it or caring for it. You can reuse it though for up to five times. But remember we insist that it has to be only when the country experiences a shortage. If possible, only use the new masks as you are much safer that way.
How can I tell that my mask is expired?
Is there a realistic way to tell whether the mask is expired? Often the dates will guide you right, but this is subject to scrutiny if you did not store them right.
Remember the way you store it will determine its functionality. Mostly the humidity and the temperature you subject it to determine how long it will last. Notice that, in some cases, it will extend its expiration dates, especially when it hasn’t lost its features yet.
Your best determinant of its effectiveness is to check if the seal works.
What of the old masks, do they work?
If you keep the masks right, then you are sure they will last even more than five years, especially if its bridge and seal are still intact. Remember, you will have it working if you kept it safe in the right environment.
The limitations you didn’t know
These masks were designed for adults, and we still don’t have N95 masks for kids. This means that if we all have to use only the N95, it doesn’t work for kids.
The mask is not as useful if you have a beard because you won’t fit the masks properly if you have the beard.
It’s quite uncomfortable to wear the mask when you are first using it.
Nonetheless, you should never use the masks if you are in a confined environment with low oxygen.
Is it necessary to use it in a crowd?
There’s still very much research happening in regards to the virus. That’s why you see the different health bodies like the CDC changing their stand from time to time.
Today they tell you to use the masks in public. Also, you are supposed to practice social distancing. Avoid going out in the crowd and instead do most of the things you need within your house.
Which one is better, the surgical mask, or the face filter masks?
Both of these masks are perfect, but they work differently. N95 is meant to sieve through about 95% particles and pathogens.
On the other hand, the surgical masks will not protect you from the pathogens. Their essence is to protect you from the biological particles, and fluid that may sprinkle on you.
There’s no exact rulebook that says the mask should last a specific duration. It’s more about how you keep the mask and use them. Nonetheless, the mask is meant for single use.