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. Learn what option may be right for you.
Half facepiece reusable respirators may help protect from particles and other contaminates. Learn more and find key resources on use of this option.
Ford Motor Company– with consulting support from 3M – has developed a unique powered-air purifying respirator (PAPR) for use in reducing exposure to airborne particles. This PAPR is designed to quickly aid healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing constant filtered airflow.
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 an 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.
3M particulate filters are enhanced with electrostatically charged fibers to help trap particulates within the filter media. As particles are collected on the filter media, the respirator will eventually become more difficult to breathe through comfortably.
Replace 3M™ Particulate Filters when:
3M does not recommend cleaning or disinfection of filter media (e.g., disc-style filters and pre-filter pads). However, some 3M filter products have a hard-plastic case surrounding the filter media, i.e., NIOSH part number 7093, filter adapter 603 and filter retainer 501. This hard case can be cleaned by wiping the outside surface with a damp cloth soaked in disinfecting solution. Do not allow the disinfecting solution to reach the internal filter media and do not submerge the hard-case filters in the disinfecting solution or water. Utilize the same disinfection solutions as recommended for 3M facepieces.
Possible disinfection methods:
Per 3M Product User Instructions for the 6000 Series and 6500 Series half facepiece respirators, cleaning is recommended after each use¹. Disinfection frequency will be based on your facility infection control policy but should also include guidance from OSHA that states “…respirators must be cleaned as often as necessary to prevent them from becoming unsanitary. In addition, respirators worn by more than one user must be cleaned and disinfected before being worn by a different user…” ².
Cleaning refers to the removal of visible soil from objects and surfaces, and normally is accomplished manually or mechanically using water with detergents or enzymatic products. Disinfection is defined as a process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms. In general, cleaning and disinfecting consists of taking the respirator apart, washing it, disinfecting it, thoroughly rinsing it, and putting it back together when it is dry.
The Lawrence (2017) article “Assessment of half-mask elastomeric respirator and powered air purifying respirator reprocessing for an influenza pandemic” defines reprocessing protocols and evaluates their effectiveness against a pandemic influenza strain in a laboratory setting. Wiping vs submersion of elastomeric respirators showed no significant difference between cleaned only vs cleaned and disinfected³. However, this is within a laboratory setting and individual user technique may vary.
The Bessesen, et. al (2015) article discusses standard operating procedures (SOP) for cleaning and disinfection of reusable elastomeric respirators⁴. OSHA also outlines suggested cleaning SOP which discusses submersion of the facemask. Additionally, the technical bulletin noted below further discusses cleaning and disinfection options following exposure to coronaviruses⁵,⁶.
The 3M™ 6000 Series Half Facepiece (6100, 6200, 6300) and 6500 Series (6501, 6502, 6503) respirators contain no components made from natural rubber latex.
No, a user seal check and fit test are different procedures.
A user seal check is performed by the respirator wearer to determine if the respirator is being properly worn before each use. Employees required to wear tight-fitting respiratory protection in the workplace must perform a user seal check each time they put on their respirator as required by US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations¹. Air will take the path of least resistance, so if the seal is improperly maintained, there may be leak paths that allow the air to flow around the facepiece seal rather than through the filter(s) and therefore compromise the respiratory protection afforded to the user. A user seal check is only applicable when a respirator has already been successfully fit tested on the individual.
To perform a user seal check on non-valved disposable particulate respirators²:
Here is a Wear it Right poster to visualize the process of donning and performing a seal check: https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1448498O/wear-it-right-putting-on-your-respirator.pdf (PDF, 1.07 MB)
A fit test helps ensure that the respirator is able to fit the wearer and provide a secure seal. Per OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, every employee using a tight-fitting facepiece respirator must be fit tested prior to initial use of the respirator, whenever a different respirator facepiece (size, style, model or make) is used, and at least annually thereafter.
Here is an example of a qualitative fit testing method, using 3M fit testing kits: https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1658130O/quick-reference-guidequalitative-fit-testing.pdf (PDF, 650 KB)
The CDC states “Elastomeric respirators with exhalation valves should not be used in surgical settings due to concerns that unfiltered air coming out of the exhalation valve, potentially contaminated with microbes, may contaminate the surgical field.”¹ Some N95 respirators may also feature an exhalation valve which is intended as a comfort feature to help release the wearer’s warm exhaled breath into the environment. It is important that this valve is recognized and then determined by the facility where these respirators are appropriate for use.
Reusable (elastomeric) respirators are not surgical masks as they are not cleared by FDA for fluid resistance or as medical devices to be used in surgical applications, per FDA regulations. The CDC states “Elastomeric respirators with exhalation valves should not be used in surgical settings due to concerns that unfiltered air coming out of the exhalation valve, potentially contaminated with microbes, may contaminate the surgical field.” ¹ Some N95 respirators may also feature an exhalation valve which is intended as a comfort feature to help release the wearer’s warm exhaled breath into the environment. It is important that this valve is recognized and then determined by the facility where these respirators are appropriate for use.
On Tuesday, April 14, Ford Motor Company began producing an all-new powered-air purifying respirator (PAPR) design, developed in collaboration with 3M. This personal protective equipment (PPE) will help protect healthcare professionals on the front-lines fighting COVID-19.
This PAPR was rapidly designed and prototyped in accordance with federal guidelines and with 3M expert support and guidance in less than four weeks.
Contact us about respirator options: COVID-19 Technical Service
Thank you for your feedback. We will continue to update our COVID-19 webpages with the feedback you have provided.
An error has occurred while submitting. Please try again later...