Whether you’re in the path of an upcoming hurricane or you just want to be prepared, it’s always helpful to know how long you can wear a N95 mask during an emergency situation before it loses its effectiveness. If you’re wearing the mask to protect yourself from the germs and pollutants in the air, how long can you go without taking it off? What are the best conditions to keep wearing your mask?
Learn how long you can wear a N95 mask without losing its effectiveness in this guide to safely wearing a N95 mask when outside your home or office building.
If you have been asked to wear a N95 mask in the workplace, or have been forced to wear one while riding in the back of an ambulance, you may be wondering how long it’s safe to wear a N95 mask. Is there an expiration date on this product that you need to remember? The simple answer is no; there is no expiration date on the safety equipment that you wear.
It’s probably safe to wear a N95 mask for longer than most people would think. According to a study conducted by CDC and NIOSH, you can wear a N95 mask for up to six hours without needing any additional respiratory protection. However, if you’re using a more-expensive brand of N95 mask, it’s important to note that NIOSH has only certified products from 3M and other manufacturers who use its own filtering technology.
How Long You Can Wear a N95 Mask Depends on a Few Factors
For an overall idea of how long you can wear a particulate respirator, such as a N95 mask, you have to consider factors like physical activity and weather. The CDC notes that during vigorous exercise—like shoveling snow—you need to replace your mask more often. On extremely hot days (over 95 degrees Fahrenheit), these masks also lose effectiveness quickly.
How Long Can You Wear A N95 Mask Without Ruining It?
Whether you’re suffering from a cold or just need some extra protection against germs, it can be tempting to reach for your trusty N95 mask. But are you really supposed to wear these masks all day, every day? What about those times when you don’t really need them (like when going out on a warm spring day)? We asked infectious disease specialist Dr. Jeffrey Bender and occupational medicine physician Dr. Stephen Benoit how long it’s safe to wear a N95 mask, how often you should replace them, and more. Here’s what they had to say: How long is it safe to wear a N95 mask? The FDA recommends that users of surgical masks change their respirators after 24 hours of continuous use because of concerns over bacterial growth in humid environments like a surgical suite.
How long can I wear a N95 mask?
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, it’s not recommended that you wear a N95 mask for more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period. The time frame for wearing a N95 mask depends on several factors—including your activity level and proximity to air pollution. If you work in construction or another high-pollution environment, it’s safe to wear a N95 mask for longer periods of time.
Are there any other limitations on masks I should know about?
In addition to wearing a respirator only when necessary, it’s important to know how long you can wear one. According to OSHA, NIOSH and CDC recommendations, there are limitations: If you wear a N95 mask for more than 8 hours a day over several days in a row or for more than 40 hours total in any week, you may be at risk of respiratory problems. The CDC advises that workers should switch to air-purifying respirators with cartridges or filters after 2 weeks of continuous use.