Ensure your respirator is certified

The FDA has cleared certain filtering facepiece respirators (N95) for use by the general public. To work as expected, an N95 respirator requires a proper fit to your face. Generally, to check for proper fit, you should put on your respirator and adjust the straps so that the respirator fits tightly but comfortably to your face.

For information on proper fit, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not generally recommend facemasks and respirators for use in home or community settings.  However, they may be appropriate for persons at increased risk of severe illness from influenza or other respiratory diseases.  Please consult with your health care provider for more information about when to use N95 Respirators at home or in the community.

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certified n95 respirators

The FDA has cleared the following N95 respirators for use by the general public in public health medical emergencies:

  • 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8670F/8612F
  • Pasture Tm F550G/A520G Respirator

According to 3M, “All certified N95 or higher-rated particulate respirators can filter airborne biological particles such as viruses and bacteria.” A full list of NIOSH certified respirators for all other uses can be found here.  

According to EnviroSafety, “Due to the 2019 Wuhan COVID-19 Coronavirus, unprecedented demand has forced 3M to place respiratory products on global allocation. We are receiving rolling shipments on a continuous basis, and are working with our industrial and governmental partners to fulfill all orders. Please expect a 2-3 month lead time on all orders.”

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respirator use instructions

People with chronic respiratory, cardiac, or other medical conditions that make breathing difficult should check with their healthcare provider before using an N95 respirator because the N95 respirator can make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe. Some models have exhalation valves that can make breathing out easier and help reduce heat build-up. Note that N95 respirators with exhalation valves should not be used when sterile conditions must be maintained.

All the FDA-cleared N95 respirators are labeled as “single use”, disposable devices. If your respirator is damaged or soiled, or if breathing becomes difficult, you should remove the respirator, discard it properly, and replace it with a new one. To safely discard your N95 respirator, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. Wash your hands after handling the used respirator.

medical professionals need masks

For this reason, the US government has urged the public not to horde masks in order to protect the supply for medical professionals on the frontline and for those who are known to be infected.