CAN YOU REUSE A FACE MASK?

cleaning with mask
30
Mar, 2020

CAN YOU REUSE A FACE MASK?

The outbreak of Coronavirus has sent the public and health care workers scrambling for face masks, and due to a shortage, they are now being reused - even though it's not as effective.

There are two common types of face masks, both of which are meant to be disposable.  Surgical masks stop a person from spreading their own germs, and are typically used by surgeons to keep their germs off patients.  they can also be used by sick patients to minimise the spread f disease from tiny particles that are coughed out.

N95 respirators, on the other hand, filter out 95% of the particles in the air in order to minimise the wearer's exposure to infectious disease.  They're worn by health care workers who are caring for the sick and don't want to get infected.

  

FACE MASKS AREN'T MEANT TO BE REUSED

Both surgical masks and N95 respirators are meant to be disposable.  They are reusable respirators, but these are generally not used by medical professionals.  They're designed for those who work with substances that produce fumes or are exposed to chemicals, like firefighters.

Surgical masks and respirators don't suddenly expire, although their fibers and elastic bands - which are important for getting a snug fit - can deteriorate over time.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, there is a shortage of both surgical masks and N95 respirators for health care workers.  Because of that, many medical professionals are reusing masks or using them for their entire shift.

When a mask is not in use it should be stored in a breathable container, like a paper bag.  

Amid the shortage, some people are creating homemade masks with everything from cloth to scarves.  Research shows homemade masks made from cotton t-shirts are only about one-third as effective as surgical masks in preventing infection, but they still "significantly reduce" the number of germs being spread by the wearer.