The guideline for how many times your N95 respirator can be reused is changing from five shifts to no more than five donning and doffing cycles. Studies have shown that repetitive donning and doffing can decrease the life of an N95 respirator, so we’re adjusting our use guidelines. To assure the highest level of protection, you should throw away your N95 after five donning and doffing cycles.
This is a change from the current recommendation of five shifts. New data suggests that more than five donning and doffings on some N95 respirators could impact the integrity of the seal and fit of the respirator. Although the guideline is changing, we haven’t seen any spread of infection as caregivers have followed the previous guideline.
Prior to every use, you should carefully inspect your N95 respirators for wear or damage that could affect the seal and perform a seal check. Be sure to evaluate the strap to make sure it’s not stretched, and the respirator still fits tight enough to pass a seal check. Also inspect the nose-clip, any soilage, and overall integrity of the N95 before each use. If your respirator is unable to pass a seal check, looks worn or damaged, is visibly soiled, wet, or hard to breathe through, please throw it away and get a new one regardless of how many times you’ve used it.
Intermountain continually evaluates CDC guidelines for PPE along with our current inventory and product availability as items are reordered. While no changes are anticipated right now, if the availability for any PPE item should change, Intermountain will re-evaluate usage recommendations.
See How to Safely Reuse and Don Your N95 for more information.