We are fully committed to helping fight the spread of COVID-19 by supporting healthcare works around the world. This pandemic is affecting all of us, and we are doing everything we can to support public health–including doubling our global output of N95 respirators and getting them to healthcare providers on the front lines of the pandemic.
Global demand for supplies used to protect front-line and health workers, such as N95 respirators, is currently exceeding available supply. There are additional respiratory protection options available
3M is continuing to address the COVID-19 pandemic with many tactics to help protect those responding to the outbreak, including healthcare workers and first responders. In early April, 3M reached agreement with the U.S. government on a plan that, with the Trump Administration’s assistance, will enable FEMA to import 166.5 million respirators into the United States over a 3-month period starting in April, from our plants in Asia.
Procedure masks are loose fitting and designed to help reduce particles expelled by the wearer.
Surgical masks are also loose fitting and designed to protect the patient from particles expelled from the wearer, in addition they can be used as a fluid barrier.
N95 Respirators are designed to help reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles.
Masks often fit loosely, leaving gaps between the mask and your face. Fit test requirements do not apply as masks are not designed to reduce wearer exposure to airborne particulates.
N95 respirators are designed to fit tightly, creating a seal between your face and the respirator. Requires fit testing and user seal checks.
Standard and surgical N95 respirators are both designed to help reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particulate hazards.
In addition, surgical N95 respirators are FDA cleared as a medical device and can be used as a fluid barrier to splashes and sprays.
An elastomeric respirator is a reusable piece of personal protective equipment with exchangeable cartridge filters. The cartridge filters are single use.
When properly selected and worn, reusable respirators effectively filter airborne particulate hazards. They are designed to fit tightly to face and are able to be cleaned and reused.
PAPRs are a type of respirator that use a blower to force the ambient air through air-purifying elements. When properly selected and worn, PAPRs effectively filter airborne particulate hazards. They are designed to fit over some facial hair and they are available in a variety of styles and facepiece/headtop offerings.
A homemade mask may help wearers remember not to touch their nose and mouth, and it may help contain spit or phlegm expelled by the wearer, similar to covering a cough or sneeze with a face tissue.
However, homemade masks do not serve as respiratory protection and may not provide any measurable exposure reduction. They are not designed to reduce wearer’s exposure to airborne particulates, like government-approved respirators are.
N95 Repirators are designed to form a seal with the face. When a good seal is formed almost all of the air goes through the filter media. The filter media in N95 particulate respirators uses non-woven fibrous filter media to capture particles. These fibers crisscross to form a web of many layers. Particles are trapped, or captured, by several different mechanisms as the airstream flows through the layers of filter media. Very large particles in the airstream will settle out due to gravity, other particles may impact a fiber and be captured, and very small particles are captured by diffusion.
In the US, respirator performance is tested and certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH certifies particulate respirators based on many physical and performance factors including filtration efficiency. N95 respirators have a filtration efficiency of at least 95% against non-oily particles when tested using the NIOSH criteria.
Tips to help avoid counterfeit products include:
3M recommends purchasing our products only from a 3M authorized distributor or dealer, as that will increase the likelihood that you will receive authentic 3M products.
3M has a COVID-19 Fraud hotline for the U.S. and Canada that end-users and purchasers of 3M products can call for information to help detect fraud and avoid counterfeit products. You can reach this hotline by calling: 1 (800) 426-8688. In addition to the hotline, you can report a concern at www.go.3m.com/covidfraud.
Join our experts to take a deeper dive into respiratory protection topics to help reduce risks in the fight against COVID-19.
Part 1: Respiratory protection options and proper technique for donning and doffing
Part 2: Fraudulent activity, imported respirators, decontamination methods and skin protection
Part 3: A closer look at FEMA – Imported respirators from Asia
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There is no time limit to wearing a N95 respirator. Respirators can be worn until they are dirty, damaged or difficult to breathe through.
3M does not recommend reuse of disposable masks or respirators. Particles containing viruses, bacteria, etc. get captured on the N95 respirator filter fibers during use and remain on the fibers after use. Handling or storing the respirator might result in further spreading the disease.
We recognize the existing CDC guidelines recommending respirator reuse: When supplies of N95 respirators are depleted, a combination of approaches can be utilized to conserve supplies while safeguarding health care workers (see full CDC document here).
There is no way of determining the maximum possible number of safe reuses for an N95 respirator. Safe N95 reuse is affected by a number of variables that impact respirator function and contamination over time.
The decision to implement policies that permit extended use or limited reuse of N95 respirators should be made by the professionals who manage the institution’s respiratory protection program.
To be effective, a respirator needs to be worn correctly and worn throughout the duration of the hazardous exposure.
Doff: Do NOT touch the front of the respirator.
Doff for storage and reuse:
CDC provided guidance for used respirator storage: Hang used respirators in a designated storage area or keep them in a clean, breathable container such as a paper bag between uses.
To minimize potential cross-contamination, store respirators so that they do not touch each other and the person using the respirator is clearly identified. Storage containers should be disposed of or cleaned regularly.
3M is collaborating with several sterilization companies and institutions that are investigating ways for hospitals to safely decontaminate N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs).
Extended use of PPE, particularly devices like respirators and face shields, may impact skin and cause various levels of skin breakdown. Explore some simple ways you can help minimize that breakdown.
Adequate fit and seal of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) – such as N95, FFP2, KN95, or similar respirators (PDF, 139.85 KB) – with the skin are required to provide expected and effective exposure reduction.
Certain 3M skin health products may help protect the skin and not interfere with the fit of the respirator including:
Learn more about skin protectant considerations and how to use Cavilon solutions for skin protection under your PPE.
3M does not recommend the use of petroleum jelly (also known as petrolatum), ointments, or thick creams because of the potential for interference with the seal of any of 3M’s FFR’s. Petroleum jelly may cause the respirator to slip around on the face
Yes, 3M™ Cavilon™ No Sting Barrier Film will help protect intact skin from moisture and friction and, when used properly, would not be expected to interfere with the fit¹ of 3M FFR.
¹ No effect on respirator fit was observed in studies comparing the fit of filtering facepiece respirators with and without these Cavilon products applied to skin as shown in this application guide (PDF, 1.54 MB). If there is any doubt or concern regarding the impact of these products on the respirator’s seal, employees should be fit tested with these products applied to the skin as they would be during respirator wear
3M™ Cavilon™ Advanced Skin Protectant*,** can be used to help protect damaged skin, e.g. abrasions from friction or other superficial skin damage
**USA only: Federal Law (U.S.A.) restricts the device to sale by or on the order of a health care professional
The 0.7 ml† is preferred.
If the 2.7 ml† applicator is used, the following steps are recommended to minimize fluid dripping or pooling during application:
Once completely dry on the skin, 3M Cavilon No Sting Barrier Film or 3M Cavilon Advanced Skin Protectant is not expected to transfer off the skin onto FFRs. However, 3M has not tested FFRs for the presence of residual barrier film or skin protectant, or the impact that this material could have on decontamination processes.
¹ No effect on respirator fit was observed in studies comparing the fit of filtering facepiece respirators with and without these Cavilon products applied to skin as shown in this application guide (PDF, 139 KB). If there is any doubt or concern regarding the impact of these products on the respirator’s seal, employees should be fit tested with these products applied to the skin as they would be during respirator wear
3M does not recommend use of dressings such as polyurethane foams and hydrocolloids. These types of dressings can raise the respirator off the cheeks and nose and may interfere with the intended seal and exposure reduction associated with the respirator.
Note: Dressings or film barriers can be used to help prevent or cover areas of skin damage under equipment, such as face shields, where fit and seal is not critical to the function of the protective equipment.
We have created a new 3M hotline for the U.S. and Canada that end-users and purchasers of 3M products can call for information on how to identify authentic 3M products and to ensure products are from 3M authorized distributors.
3M recommends purchasing our products from a 3M authorized distributor or dealer only. This offers the greatest assurance that you will receive authentic 3M product.
If you need help identifying 3M authorized distributors and dealers in your area, please contact 3M Help Center or 1 (888) 364-3577 in the United States. In Canada, please contact 3M Canada Customer Service at 1 (800) 364-3577.