PPE Guidance for Healthcare Partners from Maryland Department of Health

March 2, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released considerations for N95 use from existing caches. Various units within CDC (including National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health - NIOSH) are conducting a study to evaluate stockpiled N95s with a range of storage conditions. This study includes data from 11 different N95 models, manufactured between 2003 and 2013. Many have exceeded their manufacturer-designated shelf life.

Based on preliminary information gained in this study, many models have continued to perform in accordance with NIOSH performance standards. Accordingly, CDC believes the following products, despite being past their manufacturer-designated shelf life, should provide the expected level of protection to the user if the stockpile conditions have generally been in accordance with the manufacturer-recommended storage conditions and an OSHA-compliant respiratory protection program is used by employers. In alphabetical order, these models are:

  • 3M 1860
  • 3M 1870
  • 3M 8210
  • 3M 9010
  • 3M 8000
  • Gerson 1730
  • Medline/Alpha Protech NON27501
  • Moldex 1512
  • Moldex 2201 for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators.

In times of increased demand and decreased supply, CDC states that consideration can be given to use the N95s listed above past their manufacturer-designated shelf life when responding to COVID-19. Prior to using these expired respirators, consideration should be given to acquiring other NIOSH-approved respirators including all types of filtering facepiece respirators, elastomeric respirators, or powered air purifying respirators. Users of N95s that have exceeded the manufacturer-designated shelf life should be notified before their use and the importance of inspection and user seal checks should be reemphasized.

Users should take the following precautionary measures prior to using these respirators in the workplace.

  • Visually inspect the N95 to determine if its integrity has been compromised.
  • Check that components such as the straps, nose bridge, and nose foam material did not degrade, which can affect the quality of the fit, and seal and therefore the effectiveness of the respirator.
  • If the integrity of any part of the respirator is compromised, or if a successful user seal check cannot be performed, discard the respirator and try another respirator.
  • Users should perform a user seal check immediately after they don each respirator and should not use a respirator on which they cannot perform a successful user seal check.