The spread of new pathogen SARS-CoV-2 is rapid when compared to SARS and MERS. This virus spread through droplets when the infected person sneeze or cough. These droplets through air infects other people when they inhale this contaminated air. Since the outbreak of covid-19, people are rushing to pharmacies to buy face masks.
Due to the severe intensity of spread, here is an increased use of masks to prevent the spread of the disease to some extent. However, not all masks are made of same quality. There are medical-grade masks and non-medical face coverings. Medical-grade masks are classified into KN95 masks and surgical masks.
N refers to non-oil which means you can use N95 mask in environment where there are no oil related particles. The 95 in N95 means it can efficiently filter 95% of contaminants in the air, like dust and virus, with the minimum size of .3+ micron particles. Some disposable N95 masks come with an optional exhalation valve that eases exhaling while breathing.
Disposable surgical masks can prevent large particles and droplets from entering or exiting your mouth. And non-medical face coverings include reusable cloth mask including scarves and handkerchief that can perform like surgical masks, but not used in medical settings. These reusable masks need to be washed after every use.
Of all these masks N95 masks are more beneficial and is being used to contain the spread of covid-19. But because of the short supply of N95 masks, these are reserved for healthcare professionals, who have the risk of exposing themselves to the infectious respiratory disease, and infected people.
N95 masks can be re-used if there is no severe contamination or soiling to the mask. CDC suggests of using the mask for a maximum of five times with proper procedures. And you should never share your mask with other people. You should also follow proper donning and doffing to avoid significant contamination.
If you have to reuse your N95 mask, here are some methods of how to sanitize them before reusing.
Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation is one of the effective methods that can be used to disinfect the mask from all kind of pathogens. But the maximum number of sanitizing and reusing will depend on the type of mask. However, it could degrade the polymers to some extent and degrade the ability of N95 mask to protect the worker.
Hydrogen Peroxide Vaporization is been approved by FDA, as it allows multiple cycles of N95 mask by eliminating the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the material with just 10-minute treatment. It preserves the integrity of mask fit, but this method suits for N95 mask that doesn’t have cellulose.
Dry heating of masks at 70 degrees for thirty minutes is an effective method of decontaminating virus and the filter integrity can be maintained for two cycles.
Ethanol Spray, however, damaged the integrity of mask fit after two decontamination.
Whatever method you choose to sanitize your mask, check the fit and seal of your mask after each decontamination.
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