Elastomeric respirators are safer and more sustainable alternatives to disposable N95 masks during the coronavirus outbreak.
Osceola Regional Medical Center
personal protective equipment, PPE, face masks, safety
Emergency Medicine | Equipment and Supplies | Infectious Disease
BACKGROUND: In this paper, the authors review the safety and practicality of elastomeric respirators for protecting themselves and others from the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. They also describe the safe donning and doffing procedures for this protective gear.
MAIN TEXT: Due to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the CDC has recommended ways to conserve disposable N95 masks, including re-use and extended use, and reserving N95 masks for aerosol-generating procedures. However, these were never made to be re-used. Although the modes of transmission of COVID-19 are not fully understood, based on what we know about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), droplets and aerosolized droplets contribute to the spread of this virus. More evidence from Wuhan, China, has demonstrated that COVID-19 viral particles are aerosolized and found in higher concentrations in rooms where PPE is being removed. Thus, it is best for all healthcare providers to have full aerosol protection.
CONCLUSION: Given the shortage of PPE for aerosols, it is logical to utilize reusable elastomeric respirators with filter efficiency of 95% or higher. A single elastomeric respirator may replace hundreds to thousands of new disposable N95 masks.
Publisher or Conference
International Journal of Emergency Medicine
Chiang J, Hanna A, Lebowitz D, Ganti L. Elastomeric respirators are safer and more sustainable alternatives to disposable N95 masks during the coronavirus outbreak. Int J Emerg Med. 2020;13:39. Published 2020 Jul 20. doi:10.1186/s12245-020-00296-8