Dangers of Disposable N95 Reuse

Given the actual and/or perceived shortage of N95 respirators many
hospitals have begun implementing a “safe reuse” policy: placing the
N95 respirator in a paper bag to be reused multiple times. To determine
if contamination of a healthcare worker occurs during the
implementation of this technique, Glo-Germ was applied to the external
filter surface of a disposable N95 respirator. The respirator was then
donned and doffed five times by a healthcare worker using care to avoid
touching the interior of the bag or the face and then stored between
each change in a brown paper bag. After five changes, a UV light was
projected onto the face, hands, and the brown paper bag. Images were
taken.


Glo-germ was found on the face, the wrists proximal to the gloves, and
the opening and inside of the paper bag.


Reusing a disposable respirator after placement in a paper bag may
result in contamination of a healthcare worker. Disposable use, extended
use, and reusable respirators (Elastomeric, PAPR) remain preferred
options. If a reuse policy is implemented, the procedure should be
validated.

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