Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer; many factors affect whether or not you can use N95 masks to expire. With increased demand and limited supply. Not Recommended to use the N95 face mask past its shelf life. They may not perform to the requirements that they got certified for.
Components like the mask material and straps can degrade, which affects the quality of its seal and fit. Inspect an N95 respirator and perform a seal check before use. To check if expired or not. An expired disposable respirator may no longer meet NIOSH certification requirements.
If organization issues expired N95 masks to its employees, it should notify the staff and reemphasize how important it is to conduct seal checks on disposable respirators and user inspections.
You Should Understand These Four Things About Using an Expire N95 Mask
- They are no longer NIOSH-approved respirators
- Ensure that they got stored according to the manufacturer’s guidelines
- You should not use expired N95 masks if new ones are available
- They must get inspected properly, especially the nose pieces and, head strap
Related: Get Protected from Covid-19?
The longer you store it after its shelf life, the less likely the mask is to perform in its intended manner. Components like the headband and nose piece can break. Degrade in a way that prevents an effective seal.
Consider safety and health compliance. Once your N95 mask expires, it loses NIOSH approval. The user will technically not be in compliance with regulations regarding face coverings.
Other than as a protective measure these are potential uses for expiring N95 masks. Use these masks for fit testing and training.
Training activities are an exceptional place to use expired N95 respirators. You can use the masks to train employees in the correct donning techniques like:
- Headband placement
- Conducting seal checks
- Proper nose clip seals
You can use your expired N95 respirators to train your staff, allowing you to save the non-expired ones to use for protection.
In some situations, you can use expired masks to conduct fit testing in your organization. Here are some ways to help. Decide if your expired respirators can be used for fit testing:
Fit testing gets performed without expiring respirators. Stored according to manufacturer guidelines.
Visually inspect the expired N95 masks. Ensure that it’s not defective or damaged. Check the nose clip, foam, shell, and headbands.
Check the length of time the mask has expired. If it’s been over a year, you probably want to throw it out.
If you experience fit test pass rates that are less than expected. Discontinue using the expired N95 masks.
The way you store your N95 face masks directly contributes to their usable shelf life. Storing these respirators will help them stay effective. Here are some storage tips for your do N95 masks expire: Always store them in the original manufacturer’s packaging.
Keep N95 respirators away from areas with dust, extreme temperatures, sunlight, moisture, and damaging chemicals.
Use good inventory management; rotate your stock of N95 face masks.
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A common question about N95 respirators is if you can use them for an extended period of time. The answer would be no, but in times of a pandemic. Essential workers may not have access to a large supply of reusable models. Here are some guidelines regarding the extended use and reuse of N95 respirators:
(Note that requirements vary from organization to organization; these are general guidelines)
The respirator is acceptable for constant use if not contaminated or damaged. This means wearing your N95 mask between activities without removing it.
For patients that have viral respiratory symptoms discard the N95 mask once removed.
Reusing an N95 mask (taking it off in between activities) is typically acceptable. Not soiled, damaged, or contaminated.
You should not reuse an N95 respirator if you came into contact with someone who has viral respiratory symptoms.
- If you touch your N95 respirator, wash your hands and change your gloves if applicable.
- Wash your hands before removing your N95 mask.
- If you plan to reuse your respirator, place it in a designated place between uses.
- Only a single user should use N95 face masks.
When Should You Replace Your N95 mask?
It’s probably time to replace your N95 respirator if:
The mask is contaminated, damaged, or soiled in any way.
Your mask is expired, and you plan to use it for protective purposes.
It doesn’t fit properly anymore.
It has any visible rips, creases, or tears.
The straps or nose clips don’t fit correctly any longer.
It fails a positive or negative pressure test.
If your N95 mask fits into one or more of these categories, it’s time for a new one. The best way to stay protected is with a new high-quality N95 respirator.
Bielcor’s face masks are 100% guaranteed to perform their intended job. At Bielcor, we believe that everyone should have access to the highest-quality face masks at affordable prices to keep ourselves and our communities safe.