OSHA Guidelines for Extended or Reuse of N95 Masks

Crisis Standards of Care - Decontamination Recommendations

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim enforcement guidance on the reuse of N95 masks or filtering facepiece respirators (N95 FFRs) that have been decontaminated.

At present, FFRs are considered one-time use products and there are no manufacturer authorized methods for decontamination before reuse of N95 Masks.

An effective FFR decontamination method for, reuse of N95 masks, should reduce the pathogen burden, maintain the function of the FFR, and present no residual chemical hazard. The ability of the respirator filter media to withstand cleaning and disinfection are not NIOSH performance requirements.

If respiratory protection must be used, and acceptable alternatives are not available, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has identified available research that suggests the following methods offer the most promise for decontaminating FFRs:

  • Vaporous hydrogen peroxide;
  • Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation; and/or
  • Moist heat (i.e., using an oven).
  • If the methods above are not available, microwave-generated steam or liquid hydrogen peroxide could also be suitable.

The following methods are NOT considered acceptable:

  • Autoclaving;
  • Dry heat;
  • Isopropyl alcohol;
  • Soap;
  • Dry microwave irradiation;
  • Chlorine bleach;
  • Disinfectant wipes, regardless of impregnation (i.e., chemical saturation); and/or
  • Ethylene oxide.

Decontamination might cause poorer fit, filtration efficiency, and breathability of disposable FFRs as a result of changes to the filtering material, straps, nose bridge material, or strap attachments of the FFR. While decontamination and reuse of N95 masks are not consistent with approved usage, this option may need to be considered when FFR shortages exist.

SOURCE: CDC Guidelines

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