Care of N95/KN95 (Respirator) Masks

There is a national shortage of KN95 and N95 masks (Respirator masks). These masks are designed for single use only however they are currently approved by regulatory agencies for reuse. The mask should only be replaced in the event of soiling, visible damage, or contamination. The mask should be replaced if it no longer can be fit properly or cannot make an appropriate seal. If the mask fits and is not damaged it should be reused following the proper procedures you have been taught.

An N95 mask and/or approved KN95 mask will be provided for your use.

Each student will be responsible for the care and maintenance of their own personal protective equipment (PPE).

When a respirator mask is not required students should wear a surgical mask or cloth face covering at all times. Face covering is required at all times on campus unless special accommodation has been provided.

Respirator masks should be protected from damage by the student. The use of a cloth mask or surgical mask over a respirator mask can prevent soiling and contamination. A face shield can also be used to prevent soiling or contamination. Placement in a backpack containing books, computer or other similar equipment can result in damage and is an example of what should not be done. Respirator masks are to be protected from soiling and kept clean by placement in a zip lock or equivalent container when not in use.

Proper procedure for donning and doffing of the respirator mask is required. Students should perform a seal check each time the mask is worn. Proper removal is essential to avoid contamination of the mask resulting in an increased risk to the wearer.

Personal Protective Equipment

Guidance on Donning Personal Protective Equipment

Put on the N95 respirator. Hold the respirator in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor. Place the N95 respirator on your face covering your nose and mouth. Pull the bottom strap up and over top of your head and put it behind your head below your ears. Take the upper strap and put it behind your head towards the crown of your head. Mold the nose piece of the respirator over the bridge of your nose to obtain a tight seal. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for wearing a respirator. Perform a fit check to ensure there is a good seal against the skin.

Guidance on Removing Personal Protective Equipment

Next, you will be removing your N95 respirator. It’s important that you not touch the front of the respirator.

First, tilt your head forward. Then, use two hands to grab the bottom strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Next, use both hands to grab the upper strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Keep tension on the upper strap as you remove it, which will let the mask fall forward. Dispose of the mask. Store the mask for further use unless soiled or damaged.

Seal Check

The individual who uses a tight-fitting respirator needs to perform a user seal check to ensure that an adequate seal is achieved each time the respirator is put on. Either the positive and negative pressure checks listed in this appendix, or the respirator manufacturer's recommended user seal check method shall be used. User seal checks are not substitutes for qualitative or quantitative fit tests.

Facepiece Positive and/or Negative Pressure Checks

Positive pressure check. Close off the exhalation valve and exhale gently into the facepiece. The face fit is considered satisfactory if a slight positive pressure can be built up inside the facepiece without any evidence of outward leakage of air at the seal. For most respirators this method of leak testing requires the wearer to first remove the exhalation valve cover before closing off the exhalation valve and then carefully replacing it after the test.

Negative pressure check. Close off the inlet opening of the canister or cartridge(s) by covering with the palm of the hand(s) or by replacing the filter seal(s), inhale gently so that the facepiece collapses slightly, and hold the breath for ten seconds. The design of the inlet opening of some cartridges cannot be effectively covered with the palm of the hand. The test can be performed by covering the inlet opening of the cartridge with a thin latex or nitrile glove. If the facepiece remains in its slightly collapsed condition and no inward leakage of air is detected, the tightness of the respirator is considered satisfactory.