N95 Disposable Respirators - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Disposable Respirators (including N95)

Respirators filter the air you breathe to help protect you from microorganisms including bacteria and many viruses. In health care settings, the most common type is a surgical N95 respirator.

On this page:
Which respirator should I use?
Use of N95 respirators
When should an N95 respirator be changed?

Which respirator should I use?

  • Surgical N95 respirators
    Surgical N95 respirators give you the protection of both an N95 respirator and a surgical or procedure mask.
  • Industrial or non-medical respirators
    Most N95 respirators available at your local hardware store or pharmacy have been certified by NIOSH to filter the air you breathe. However, they do not have the additional protection of a surgical mask.

Use of N95 respirators

  • Employees must be instructed how to put on, position, adjust, and remove respirators.
  • Fit testing
    Fit testing must be done prior to use, whenever a different respirator is worn, and at least annually thereafter.

When should an N95 respirator be changed?

  • N95 respirators are disposable and cannot be cleaned.
  • N95s can be reused if used in the care of a tuberculosis patient.
    • Check before putting on each time and replace if facepiece or head straps show any signs of damage or deterioration.
    • Replace if facepiece is visibly dirty, splashed on, or becomes difficult to breathe through.
    • Replace in accordance with your agency's infection control protocols.
Updated Friday, 21-Feb-2020 14:16:28 CST