The N95 FFP respirators are officially approved for healthcare and industrial use by the U.S. NIOSH. This organization tests and supports respirators based on filtration efficacy and performance. 3m 1860s n95 mask filters 95% of all aerosolized particles, hence the name N95. Here, aerosol refers to the suspension of fine solid or liquid particles in the air. Higher-grade N100 respirators have a 99- 100% filtration efficiency and are not common in healthcare. As per the European Committee for Standardization, the European standard classifies FFP respirators. The classification is FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 on the filtration efficiencies, 80%, 90%, and 99%, respectively.

The N95 respirators usually get tested against uncharged sodium chloride particles measuring around 0.1 to 0.3 micrometers in size. The face mask provides 95% protection and permits airflow of about 85 liters per minute. The primary use of N95 respirators is to protect HCWs from airborne respiratory transferrable diseases like COVID-19. The advantages of N95s over surgical masks and cloth masks are compact filter penetration of aerosolized particles and absent face-seal leak 7-10. During pandemics, the demand for N95 face masks frequently beats available supply.

Shortage

The COVID pandemic has disrupted supply chains, resultant in a critical shortage of high-demand PPE, including N95s, worldwide. In several countries, HCWs have little option but to be forced to use substandard PPE and breathing apparatus, even homemade. National, local, regional, and hospital administrative authorities must have the oversight to monitor PPE demand. They prioritize the needs of the frontline HCWs who are at the highest risks. In the following, we discuss some methods that may benefit preserving the limited supply of N95 face masks, if needed.

Extended use

You can use a 3m 1860s n95 mask for up to eight hours without removal. Though, there can be slight time duration variations in practice. It depends on the hospital or local guidelines. If you wear a transparent shield over your respirator, it extends the respirator’s life.

Reuse

Because of the lack of face masks, the experts recommend reusing them. The same person can wear the face mask carefully without touching the inner or outer surfaces of the respirator with bare hands. The CDC recommends you can reuse it up to five times. Reuse can be achievable  by rotation of the N95 respirators or by decontamination

Disadvantages Of N95 face masks

Although N95 face masks are considered very safe and effective, in situations such as the pandemic, there are some disadvantages, namely:

Requires primary and periodic fit-testing and possibly compromised by improper fit.

  • Cost-effectiveness: N95 face masks of various sizes and types are essential in healthcare facilities and individual departments. The supply may be minimal, and healthcare facilities in some developing countries cannot afford to stock different kinds of N95 respirators.
  • Poor tolerance because of difficulty in breathing.
  • Humidity and moisture build-up, leading to deterioration.
  • Risk of contamination of areas of face and neck uncovered by the respirator. In situations where exposure is expected to be longer in high-risk areas, the addition of PAPR is optional.

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