Global & Disaster Medicine

Pandemics: Reusability of Facemasks

Institute of Medicine 2006. Reusability of Facemasks During an Influenza
Pandemic: Facing the Flu. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

“…….First, of the forms of respiratory protection the committee was asked to
consider, N95 filtering facepiece respirators that are certified by the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and properly
fit-tested are likely to provide the best protection against influenza to the
extent that it may be spread via an airborne route. Similarly, a closely fitting
high-efficiency medical mask is likely to provide appropriate protection
against droplets, whereas a surgical N95 will provide protection against
both droplets and aerosols. While recognizing the methodological and data
limitations regarding the efficacy of medical masks as a form of respiratory
protection against avian influenza, and in the absence of data to the contrary,
the committee concluded that masks are likely to provide far less
protection against aerosols than an N95 filtering facepiece but may offer

better protection than cotton masks, homemade alternatives such as handkerchiefs
and scarves, or no protection at all. No device is fail-safe, and its
effectiveness depends on fit, level of exposures, and appropriate use. Finally,
none of these devices protects against contact transmission, and appropriate
hand hygiene is necessary when using and after removing these devices…..”

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