Finding 2: Any method of decontaminating a disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator must remove the viral threat, be harmless to the user, and not compromise the integrity of the various elements of the respirator. The committee found no method of decontamination that met all three criteria.
Finding 3: The committee found no simple modifications to currently existing N95 filtering facepiece respirators that would obviate the need for fit-testing.
Finding 4: Many versions of reusable (elastomeric) respirators on the market have facepieces that can be cleaned and reused. Some of these are available in full-facepiece versions, which also offer eye protection and may prevent conjunctival transmission. These respirators can be reused by single or multiple wearers, and although they are more expensive than the disposable N95 respirators, should be considered as an alternative to filtering facepieces.
Despite these findings about the constraints of reuse, the committee makes a recommendation for extending the life of disposable N95 respirators for individual users. This recommendation is consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Domestic Guidance on the Use of Respirators to Prevent Transmission of SARS (CDC, 2003).
Recommendation 1: Avoiding Contamination Will Allow for Limited Reuse.
If an individual user needs to reuse his or her own disposable N95 respirator, the committee recommends that it be done in the following manner:
Protect the respirator from external surface contamination when there is a high risk of exposure to influenza (i.e., by placing a medical mask or cleanable faceshield over the respirator so as to prevent surface contamination but not compromise the device’s fit).
Use and store the respirator in such a way that the physical integrity and efficacy of the respirator will not be compromised.
Practice appropriate hand hygiene before and after removal of