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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 5:57 pm | Fair 65º


Guidelines for Reusing N-95 Face Masks During Thomas Fire

N-95 face masks are in short supply during the Thomas Fire and are being distributed in partnership with various agencies.

These masks may be safely reused as long as they are still dry and able to create an airtight seal around the face.

Discard the mask and get a new one if:

» 1. It becomes wet or soiled (sweat, mucus, etc.).

» 2. It is bent out of shape and no longer able to create an airtight seal around the face.

Note that the guidance you might find online for N-95 masks often refers to airborne communicable diseases (tuberculosis, influenza, etc.) and may advise to discard the mask after each use. This does not apply to smoke particles. In the current situation involving unhealthy air quality from the fire, the N-95 masks can be safely reused as described above.

— Susan Klein-Rothschild is deputy director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.


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