Disposable Respirators (including N95)
Respirators filter the air you breathe to help protect you from microorganisms including bacteria and many viruses. In health care settings, the most common type is a surgical N95 respirator.
Which respirator should I use?
- Surgical N95 respirators
Surgical N95 respirators give you the protection of both an N95 respirator and a surgical or procedure mask.
- Industrial or non-medical respirators
Most N95 respirators available at your local hardware store or pharmacy have been certified by NIOSH to filter the air you breathe. However, they do not have the additional protection of a surgical mask.
- FDA: Masks and N95 Respirators
Includes definition of surgical masks, and guidance on choosing between surgical masks and surgical N95 respirators.
Use of N95 respirators
- Employees must be instructed how to put on, position, adjust, and remove respirators.
- Fit testing
Fit testing must be done prior to use, whenever a different respirator is worn, and at least annually thereafter.
- Proper Respirator Use: Public Health Respiratory Protection Program Template
Portion of the Respiratory Protection Template related to respirator use.
- Use of an N95 Respirator: Cleaning Up After the Flood
Fact sheet about using N95 respirators during clean-up activities.
- Respirators (like an N95) should be worn as part of Airborne Precautions or Full Barrier Precautions.
When should an N95 respirator be changed?
- N95 respirators are disposable and cannot be cleaned.
- If an N95 is used in the care of a patient on Contact Precautions, in addition to Standard Precautions (e.g., SARS, smallpox), it must be disposed of after each use.
- N95s can be reused if used in the care of a tuberculosis patient.
- Check before putting on each time and replace if facepiece or head straps show any signs of damage or deterioration.
- Replace if facepiece is visibly dirty, splashed on, or becomes difficult to breathe through.
- Replace in accordance with your agency's infection control protocols.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting: N95
Portion of the Respiratory Protection Template related to cleaning and disinfecting of N95 - disposable respirators.
- Inspecting, Maintenance and Repairs: N95
Portion of the Respiratory Protection Template related to inspecting, maintenance and repair of N95 - disposable respirators.