"Over the past few weeks, concerns about COVID-19 have been growing and changing rapidly in Canada. From day one, we have looked at this through the perspective of how it will affect first responders, medical workers and medical staff Health risks.
At present, N95 masks are in short supply worldwide. It is reported that since the outbreak of SARS in 2002, Ontario has hoarded 55 million masks, but now it has expired. This requires a question "Can I still use an expired N95 mask?"
Can you use expired N95 masks?
In February this year, 3M, a manufacturer of gas masks, released a technical report called "Notes on Gas Masks Beyond the Shelf Life", which provided some insights.
This technical report introduces readers to the guidelines issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "Strategy for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respiratory Masks https://www.maskwholesales.com ."
"In the case of increased demand and reduced supply, you can consider using N95 respirators that exceed the expected shelf life. However, the respirator may not meet the certification requirements. Over time, parts such as straps and materials may deteriorate, which affects The quality of the fit and seal. Before using the N95 respirator, HCP (medical professional) should check the respirator and perform a seal check. In addition, expired respirator may no longer meet the certification requirements of NIOSH Wholesale Surgical Mask.
Levitt-Safety conducted random fit tests using expired masks from different brands. According to our experience, these masks still passed the health test, indicating that the tested masks can still be used normally.
It should be noted that we tested expired masks within a limited sample size. This does not necessarily mean that all expired masks are valid. We recommend that customers test themselves before issuing any expired masks.
Before using expired N95 respirators, you should try purchasing other niosh approved respirators, including:
Various types of filter masks
Powdered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
This follows the best practices in "Optimizing N95 Respirator Supply Strategy".
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention made this recommendation because health care services are indispensable and services must continue to be provided in the face of the 19th polio outbreak.
Any organization that chooses to use the expired N95 mask should notify the staff before use. The organization should also emphasize again the importance of inspection and user seal inspection.
In short, if you decide to use an expired N95 protective mask, you must understand:
They are not respirator approved by niosh.
You should ensure that they are stored according to the manufacturer's specifications.
They must be properly checked, including headband and nose parts
They should be your last choice after the N95s, flexible APR and PAPR "
"Why can't the respirator meet the requirements?"
The longer the shelf life of the respirator, the less likely it is to achieve the desired effect.
Once the shelf life has passed, not only will the filter be affected, but also key components for effective sealing such as hair bands will lose their elasticity and / or become fragile and broken, or the nose foam will harden, preventing effective sealing.
It also needs to be considered from a health and safety compliance perspective. Once expired, even if the mask is "valid", it has lost N95 certification. This means that even if the mask works, if it is used in an environment above the danger threshold, the user may not technically meet the requirements. If it is below the threshold limit, compliance is not a legal issue because the mask is used as a barrier.
Can you use expired N95 masks for training?
According to the 3Ms bulletin, training activities are a good place to use respirators that have exceeded their shelf life. During the training period, the wearer must receive correct training in wearing techniques, including:
The position of the headscarf
Perform user seal inspection.
If your organization uses expired respirators of the same model as your employees, we recommend that you use these respirators for training. In this way, you can save unexpired respirator for protection.
Is it possible to use expired N95 protective masks for health testing?
You can use an expired respirator for proper testing in certain situations. Your organization needs to consider the following factors to determine whether it is appropriate:
Depending on the storage conditions on the packaging, use a respirator for proper testing.
Before performing a suitable test, visually inspect the respirator to confirm that it is not damaged or defective. This includes hair bands, nose clips, nose foam and shells.
Consider the time between the mask expiration date and the test date. The shorter the interval between the two dates, the more reasonable-you do n’t want the interval to exceed one year.
If your health test pass rate for these respirators is lower than expected, please pay close attention. If this happens, you will consider discontinuing them.
How to store disposable masks:
In their article "Why do disposable masks have a definite shelf life?" 3M explained how to store disposable masks because "storage conditions are a key factor in determining the shelf life of masks."
Always keep the respirator in its original packaging.
Keep the respirator away from contaminated areas, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive humidity, and harmful chemicals.
Implement good inventory management measures, including inventory rotation.
In that article, 3M also provided suggestions for replenishing your inventory and handling expired masks. "