How to Use an N95 Respirator

by LDS Intelligent Living

I have N95 respirators stored in a cupboard with the rest of my emergency preparedness gears. Now, I have to confess that when I got these respiratory protective devices, I looked at them, felt better for having them, and promptly put them away. However, I kept thinking that I needed to learn the proper way to use these masks. I found this great video produced by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). I encourage those of you who have these respirators, and don’t know how to use them or think you know how to use them properly, to watch this video.

General Instructions for Disposable N95 Respirators  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The US Department of Health and Human Services published the following information: N95 Respirators for Use by the Public An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. In addition to blocking splashes, sprays and large droplets, the respirator is also designed to prevent the wearer from breathing in very small particles that may be in the air. 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 tight but comfortably to your face. For information on proper fit, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death. N95 respirators are not designed for children or people with facial hair. Because a proper fit cannot be achieved on children and people with facial hair, the N95 respirator may not provide full protection. People with chronic respiratory, cardiac, or other medical conditions that make it harder to breathe should check with their healthcare provider before using an N95 respirator because the N95 respirator can require more effort to breathe. Some models have exhalation valves that can make breathing out easier and help reduce heat build-up. ALL 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. FDA has cleared the following N95 respirators for use by the general public in public health medical emergencies:

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

These devices are labeled “NOT for occupational use.”  

For more information about flu pandemic preparation, visit the following websites:

Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza Outbreak click here to read

Seattle and King County has a comic book on pandemic flu, good for readers of all ages, click here to access the site 

Photo source: public domain

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