No one can answer the query regarding “How long do N95 face masks last?” so it’s almost impossible to say the number of times that an N95 mask can be reused or lasts. In different cases, the number of times that it can be used varies totally.
After the following, the use of N95 mask should be discarded totally.
- After using masks for aerosol generation.
- If the mask has been contaminated with blood, nasal and respiratory secretion of patients.
- Discard it immediately following a contact with a person who is infected with a disease that needs serious precautions.
- A cleanable face shield can be additionally used over the respirator to protect it from contamination.
- Clean hands with soap and water or use a sanitizer. This kills all the germs in the hands. Do this before using the mask or adjusting it.
- Have a designed place where the mask will be hanged or stored. Also, ensure that nobody touches the mask. Cross-contamination of all kinds should be totally eliminated, so a clean place should be identified.
- The body of the respirator, inside or outside should not be touched at all. If touched by any chance, the mask should be discarded and hands should be cleaned and washed to prevent all kinds of contamination.
- A good non-sterile glove can be used when donning a used N95 respirator.
- If the mask gets moist or if felt that it has been soiled, it should be safely discarded.
- If too much of touching of mask has happened, the mask should not be used again.
- If anybody faces breathing problems using the respirator, a fresh one should be taken to use as this means the respirator has been soiled.
- If the fitting of the mask is not good or one has to breath around the mask, then also it should be replaced.
Though we cannot assume the exact number for “How long do N95 face masks last?” we can at least make it usable for maximum number of times if used in a proper way.
Therefore, there are no fixed number of times for using or re-using an N95 mask. However, in times when the resources are limited, we have to keep in mind the ways through which we can extend the uses or even reuse the masks. The circumstances under which the mask has been used should be well considered before deciding if to reuse the mask or not. Extreme rough handling or excessive reuse could lead to rapid transmission of disease.