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Reuse N95 Masks?

Q: Can N95 masks be reused? I know they are supposed to be disposable, but we are having trouble getting them.

A: It obviously would be best to have new personal protective equipment for each situation where an N95 was required. However, the reality of delays in receiving supplies can make that impossible. Whether the masks can be reused or not likely depends on at least two factors:

1. The purpose for wearing the mask, i.e. TB, pandemic flu, etc.
2. If the mask is contaminated

In case shortages associated with a flu pandemic require reuse, a panel of experts recommends wearing a surgical mask over the N95 mask to prevent the outside from becoming contaminated. Editor's Note: If you're not asphyxiated first! Then, store it in a clean bag and avoid creases or damage. Wash hands before and after removal. Recheck the mask's fit with each wearing.

Here at Quality America we'd love to hear how your facility is handling the issue of N95 respirators. Do you allow reuse? Why or why not? Any other stipulations? Please post your comments below!

Posted by Quality America on September 25, 2007 | Comments (3)


Our policy currently states the N95 disposable respirators can be worn throughout the shift as long as they do not get wet, dirty or torn. At the end of the shift, they are to be tossed. They also must be kept where they can differentiate masks. When in doubt toss, or if the employee prefers, they can toss after each use.

Posted by: Patricia Heath at September 25, 2007 04:07 PM

It is virtually impossible to remove an N95 and replace it without contaminating yourself. Sprinkle one with a powdered glow germ product and try it. We use once and dispose. I may have to revisit this in a pandemic but I do have PAPR's on hand for pandemic or mask shortage.

Posted by: Jane at September 25, 2007 04:07 PM

Just came across this in the new CDC isolation guidelines. N-95 used for TB patients can be reused until moist, soiled, etc. (I assume because TB is spread by inhaling not by contact). For SARS, that could be spread by contact, I would assume you cannot reuse N95.

Posted by: Caron Withers at September 25, 2007 04:08 PM

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