The Biden administration stated they would soon deliver free N95 masks to pharmacies and community health centers after public health experts urged Americans for months to start using better N95 masks.
That comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its advice for consumers on using N95 masks on Friday, highlighting the fact that N95s and other high-filtration respirators provide the greatest defense against COVID-19.
Here’s all you need to know about getting your own N95 mask if you don’t feel like waiting to try and get one for free from the government.
Over the course of this epidemic, I’ve spent a considerable bit of time studying N95 masks, speaking with specialists in the area, and answering queries from family and friends. And there are inquiries! Which breathing apparatus is best for me? Where can I get a reliable one? Do they really need to feel uncomfortable?
Here is my effort to address your concerns and clarify where to acquire N95 masks and how to use them safely.
Fake N95 masks, so I’ve heard, may be problematic. How can I be sure I’m receiving the actual thing?
N95s are a dependable option since they are produced to U.S. regulatory requirements and put through thorough testing by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The South Korean government regulates these respirators in accordance with the KF94 standard. Collins claims that “every [KF94] I’ve tried so far has been really high performing.”
Collins and Miller agree that KN95 is a Chinese respirator standard, although the Chinese government does not properly monitor these respirators. Even though there are some high-quality KN95s available (the ones produced by Powecom have performed well in testing), low-quality or outright fraudulent KN95s have been an issue throughout the epidemic.
To spot fakes, there are certain telltale signs. For instance, Miller claims that the manufacturer name and the respirator standard number should both be imprinted on the front of KN95s. The standard number for N95 masks made after July 1, 2021, is GB2626-2019, whereas the standard number for N95 masks created before that date is GB2626-2006. She claims that if any of those components are missing from your KN95, it may not be genuine. Here is the CDC’s instructions to identifying bogus N95s.
However, generally speaking, it may be difficult to determine whether you’ve got the genuine article with any mask, which is why Collins and Miller agree that it’s crucial to purchase from a reliable supplier. One option is Project N95, which screens distributors of N95 masks. Collins also suggests Armbrust, a business that offers medical-grade N95 masks produced in the United States by a number of manufacturers, including itself. You can read more about How many types of N95 masks are there? by visiting http://investigateyourdoctor.com/how-many-types-of-n95-masks-are-there/
Collins advises visiting big-box retailers like Home Depot and Lowes. He claims that buying N95 masks on Amazon might be challenging since sellers often change. Nevertheless, he advises sticking with the official shops of well-known mask companies like 3M or Kimberly-Clark if you absolutely want the ease that Amazon provides. I wouldn’t simply purchase something off of Amazon, he claims.
Additionally, as the CDC indicated in its revised mask guidelines, Miller claims that there are now several American manufacturers producing NIOSH-rated N95s, so supply is no longer a concern. However, she claims that due to the increased demand for respirators, it is difficult for mask makers and other parties in the supply chain to meet demand. Thus, do not anticipate overnight delivery of your item.
Collins advises searching for a South Korean KF94 respirator online at stores like Be Healthy USA and Kollecte USA. He claims that these companies began as importers of South Korean cosmetics but have now expanded to include KF94 respirators, which are widely available in South Korean pharmacies.
Can I use my N95 or another respirator again?
However, Miller suggests using the “brown bag decontamination approach” instead. Basically, if your work requires you to wear a respirator all day, store it in a brown paper bag at night or hang it up in a cool, dry location. In order for any virus particles caught on it to die off, it should rest for five days. Put “Monday mask,” “Tuesday mask,” etc. on the bags. The CDC recommends just five reuses of an N95 respirator. (Health professionals need not reuse them.) Miller points out that if you follow this rule, a rotation of only five respirators might last you 25 days.
What if you just sometimes put on an N95 for a brief trip to the store? Miller suggests that you estimate the lifespan of your respirator to be about 40 hours of usage in total, which is equal to five eight-hour days. It’s time to throw away the respirator if it’s dusty, growing difficult to breathe through, or if the straps have been stretched out.
One other thing: N95 masks have a shelf life. According to Miller, a mask may gradually lose some of its electrostatic charge, which traps particles, as well as the suppleness of its headbands or ear loops, which might make it less protective.
According to her, KN95s normally have a shelf life of two to three years. Search the package for a little ticket that indicates the product’s production date.
What about N95 masks?
Though some manufacturers will do so, NIOSH does not mandate that respirators be tagged with a shelf-life date. Even while certain expired N95s may still function properly, they are no longer regarded as NIOSH approved after they have passed their shelf life.
It may be really painful to wear N95s. How can I locate something comfortable that I can wear all day?
These days, N95 masks come in a variety of sizes and forms. Five fundamental kinds are included in Collins’ spreadsheet: bifold, boat, cup, cone, and duckbill. Finding a suitable fit for you may take some time and trial and error.
For instance, I detest inflexible cup-shaped N95s, despite Miller’s claim that many men do so “for reasons I don’t understand.” The 3M Aura 9205+, which includes foam above the nose clip for increased comfort, is one of Collins’ favorite trifold or boat-shaped N95s.
According to him and Miller, N95s with a breathing pocket or duckbill form often suit a wide range of users. “These duckbill-shaped N95 masks may seem silly, yet they are wonderfully breathable. You wouldn’t have any issues running a marathon in that, I’m very sure “affirms Collins. He enjoys the duckbill N95 masks made by Kimberly-Clark, 3M, and Gerson. You can also read about COVID-19 and face masks – Information for consumers by clicking here.
“It’s sort of an odd thing to say these days, but you kind of have to find your respirator. However, once you do, they’re incredibly cozy “He claims.
Not sure where to begin?
To help you select the optimum fit, several businesses provide fit kits that include a variety of N95 models.
Additionally, keep in mind that the mask must fit extremely tightly; the goal is to prevent airflow around the edge. Put on a pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses to check. You don’t have a good fit if they fog up. Alternately, try using a different kind of mask or adjusting the straps or nose band.