Clinician wearing a facemask and N95 respirator while speaking with a patient

PPE information to help keep you safe in the fight against COVID-19

We are fully committed to helping fight the spread of COVID-19 by supporting healthcare works around the world. This pandemic is affecting all of us, and we are doing everything we can to support public health–including doubling our global output of N95 respirators and getting them to healthcare providers on the front lines of the pandemic. Learn more about how we’re increasing production of PPE.

  • Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
    PPE Questions and Considerations

    We know you have questions related to PPE. We are here to provide guidance on the different types of PPE and its proper use.

  • Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
    Optimization of PPE

    With supply challenges around the world, many facilities are looking to optimize their equipment.

  • Clinician wearing PPE with patient
    PPE and Skin Protection

    Explore some simple ways you can minimize skin breakdown from the extended use of PPE.


Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
PPE Questions and Considerations

We are here to answer your questions on 3M™ Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Mask use, fit and other considerations to help protect yourself. We will continue to update site with new information and answer questions we hear from you.

Frequently asked questions on PPE use and equipment

  • What is the difference between a procedure mask and a surgical mask?

    Procedure masks are loose fitting and designed to help reduce particles expelled by the wearer.

    Surgical masks are also loose fitting and designed to protect the patient from particles expelled from the wearer; in addition they can be used as a fluid barrier.

  • Surgical mask is to help prevent biological particles (e.g. bacteria and viruses) from being expelled by the wearer into the environment. Surgical masks are not necessarily designed to seal tightly to the face, so air might leak around the edges. Many surgical masks are also designed to be fluid-resistant to splash and splatter of blood and other bodily fluids.

    N95 Respirators are designed to help reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, filter at least 95% of airborne particulate contaminants.

    Some approved respirators are designed to have the characteristics of both a respirator and a surgical mask. These products are often called “Surgical N95 respirators.” In the U.S., Surgical N95 respirators are both approved by NIOSH and cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in surgery.

    Division 3M™ Surgical Face Masks Nexcare™ Face Masks 3M™ Respirators 3M™ N95 Respirators
    Model Number T1926 1826 Earloop Mask Comfort Mask KN95 PM2.5 Pollution & Haze Respirator N95 Particulate Respirator N95 Health Care Particulate & Surgical Mask
    Relevant Product Picture T1926 1826 Earloop Mask Comfort Mask KN95 PM2.5 Pollution & Haze Respirator N95 Particulate Respirator N95 Health Care Particulate & Surgical Mask
    1.Use Prevent droplets from spreading Prevent droplets from spreading Prevent droplets from spreading Reduce transmission through spreading droplets, and keep warm Reduce inhalation of droplets and non-oil based particles in the air Reduce inhalation of droplets and non-oil based particles in the air Reduce inhalation of droplets and non-oil based particles in the air; fluid resistant
    2.Cautions Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; the blue side should face outwards. Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; the blue side should face outwards. Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; the blue side should face outwards. Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; designed to keep wearers warm and comfortable Fit testing required Fit testing required Fit testing required
    3.Standards EN14683 Type II/ ASTM level 1*
    BFE* : >98%
    PFE* : >99% 0.1 um
    Delta P*: <3.0 mm
    Fluid resistance* : 80 mmHg
    EN14683* BFE* : >99% PFE* : >95% 0.1 um Delta P: <3.0 mm BFE : 99%
    PFE : 99%
    Not applicable GB 2626-2006: KN 95 (China)
    Filter out at least 95% of polluted particles
    NIOSH approved N95 (USA)
    Filter out at least 95% of polluted particles
    NIOSH approved N95 (USA)
    Filter out at least 95% of polluted particles
    Pass fluid resistance test
    4.Remarks on Standards *ASTM = ASTM F2100 -11
    *BFE = Bacteria Filtration Efficiency, Size of typical bacteria at 3-5 microns
    *Delta P = Differential Pressure, Breathability - Pressure Difference, the smaller the value, the better
    *Fluid Resistance = Measure the ability to resist fluids at a specified pressure ( level 1 = 80mmHg, Level 2 = 120 mmHg, level 3 = 160 mmHg)
    *PFE = Particulate Filtration Efficiency, Particle size at 0.1 micron

    N95 is a rating given by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to any respirator that can filter out at least 95% of polluted particles.
    ASTM stands for the American Society for Materials and Testing, and ASTM F2100 -11 is a standard specification for performance of materials used in medical face masks. Materials used in medical face masks can be classified into 3 grades: Grade 1 is ideal for low amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced; Grade 2 and 3 are for moderate to heavy amounts of fluid respectively. The main difference is fluid resistance.
    EN14683 is a European standard of requirements and test methods for medical face masks . It is divided into Type 1, 2 and 2R respectively. The main difference between Type 1 and 2 is BFE. And, Type 2 and 2R differ from each other in fluid resistance and breathability.
    Division 3M™ Surgical Face Masks
    Model Number T1926 1826
    Relevant Product Picture T1926 1826
    1.Use Prevent droplets from spreading Prevent droplets from spreading
    2.Cautions Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; the blue side should face outwards. Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; the blue side should face outwards.
    3.Standards EN14683 Type II/ ASTM level 1*
    BFE* : >98%
    PFE* : >99% 0.1 um
    Delta P*: <3.0 mm
    Fluid resistance* : 80 mmHg
    EN14683* BFE* : >99% PFE* : >95% 0.1 um Delta P: <3.0 mm
    4.Remarks on Standards *ASTM = ASTM F2100 -11
    *BFE = Bacteria Filtration Efficiency, Size of typical bacteria at 3-5 microns
    *Delta P = Differential Pressure, Breathability - Pressure Difference, the smaller the value, the better
    *Fluid Resistance = Measure the ability to resist fluids at a specified pressure ( level 1 = 80mmHg, Level 2 = 120 mmHg, level 3 = 160 mmHg)
    *PFE = Particulate Filtration Efficiency, Particle size at 0.1 micron

    N95 is a rating given by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to any respirator that can filter out at least 95% of polluted particles.
    ASTM stands for the American Society for Materials and Testing, and ASTM F2100 -11 is a standard specification for performance of materials used in medical face masks. Materials used in medical face masks can be classified into 3 grades: Grade 1 is ideal for low amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced; Grade 2 and 3 are for moderate to heavy amounts of fluid respectively. The main difference is fluid resistance.
    EN14683 is a European standard of requirements and test methods for medical face masks . It is divided into Type 1, 2 and 2R respectively. The main difference between Type 1 and 2 is BFE. And, Type 2 and 2R differ from each other in fluid resistance and breathability.
    Division Nexcare™ Face Masks
    Model Number Earloop Mask Comfort Mask
    Relevant Product Picture Earloop Mask Comfort Mask
    1.Use Prevent droplets from spreading Reduce transmission through spreading droplets, and keep warm
    2.Cautions Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; the blue side should face outwards. Cannot achieve complete seal-to-face fit; designed to keep wearers warm and comfortable
    3.Standards BFE : 99%
    PFE : 99%
    Not applicable
    4.Remarks on Standards *ASTM = ASTM F2100 -11
    *BFE = Bacteria Filtration Efficiency, Size of typical bacteria at 3-5 microns
    *Delta P = Differential Pressure, Breathability - Pressure Difference, the smaller the value, the better
    *Fluid Resistance = Measure the ability to resist fluids at a specified pressure ( level 1 = 80mmHg, Level 2 = 120 mmHg, level 3 = 160 mmHg)
    *PFE = Particulate Filtration Efficiency, Particle size at 0.1 micron

    N95 is a rating given by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to any respirator that can filter out at least 95% of polluted particles.
    ASTM stands for the American Society for Materials and Testing, and ASTM F2100 -11 is a standard specification for performance of materials used in medical face masks. Materials used in medical face masks can be classified into 3 grades: Grade 1 is ideal for low amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced; Grade 2 and 3 are for moderate to heavy amounts of fluid respectively. The main difference is fluid resistance.
    EN14683 is a European standard of requirements and test methods for medical face masks . It is divided into Type 1, 2 and 2R respectively. The main difference between Type 1 and 2 is BFE. And, Type 2 and 2R differ from each other in fluid resistance and breathability.
    Division 3M™ Respirators
    Model Number KN95 PM2.5 Pollution & Haze Respirator
    Relevant Product Picture KN95 PM2.5 Pollution & Haze Respirator
    1.Use Reduce inhalation of droplets and non-oil based particles in the air
    2.Cautions Fit testing required
    3.Standards GB 2626-2006: KN 95 (China)
    Filter out at least 95% of polluted particles
    4.Remarks on Standards *ASTM = ASTM F2100 -11
    *BFE = Bacteria Filtration Efficiency, Size of typical bacteria at 3-5 microns
    *Delta P = Differential Pressure, Breathability - Pressure Difference, the smaller the value, the better
    *Fluid Resistance = Measure the ability to resist fluids at a specified pressure ( level 1 = 80mmHg, Level 2 = 120 mmHg, level 3 = 160 mmHg)
    *PFE = Particulate Filtration Efficiency, Particle size at 0.1 micron

    N95 is a rating given by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to any respirator that can filter out at least 95% of polluted particles.
    ASTM stands for the American Society for Materials and Testing, and ASTM F2100 -11 is a standard specification for performance of materials used in medical face masks. Materials used in medical face masks can be classified into 3 grades: Grade 1 is ideal for low amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced; Grade 2 and 3 are for moderate to heavy amounts of fluid respectively. The main difference is fluid resistance.
    EN14683 is a European standard of requirements and test methods for medical face masks . It is divided into Type 1, 2 and 2R respectively. The main difference between Type 1 and 2 is BFE. And, Type 2 and 2R differ from each other in fluid resistance and breathability.
    Division 3M™ N95 Respirators
    Model Number N95 Particulate Respirator N95 Health Care Particulate & Surgical Mask
    Relevant Product Picture N95 Particulate Respirator N95 Health Care Particulate & Surgical Mask
    1.Use Reduce inhalation of droplets and non-oil based particles in the air Reduce inhalation of droplets and non-oil based particles in the air; fluid resistant
    2.Cautions Fit testing required Fit testing required
    3.Standards NIOSH approved N95 (USA)
    Filter out at least 95% of polluted particles
    NIOSH approved N95 (USA)
    Filter out at least 95% of polluted particles
    Pass fluid resistance test
    4.Remarks on Standards *ASTM = ASTM F2100 -11
    *BFE = Bacteria Filtration Efficiency, Size of typical bacteria at 3-5 microns
    *Delta P = Differential Pressure, Breathability - Pressure Difference, the smaller the value, the better
    *Fluid Resistance = Measure the ability to resist fluids at a specified pressure ( level 1 = 80mmHg, Level 2 = 120 mmHg, level 3 = 160 mmHg)
    *PFE = Particulate Filtration Efficiency, Particle size at 0.1 micron

    N95 is a rating given by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to any respirator that can filter out at least 95% of polluted particles.
    ASTM stands for the American Society for Materials and Testing, and ASTM F2100 -11 is a standard specification for performance of materials used in medical face masks. Materials used in medical face masks can be classified into 3 grades: Grade 1 is ideal for low amounts of fluid, spray and/or aerosols are produced; Grade 2 and 3 are for moderate to heavy amounts of fluid respectively. The main difference is fluid resistance.
    EN14683 is a European standard of requirements and test methods for medical face masks . It is divided into Type 1, 2 and 2R respectively. The main difference between Type 1 and 2 is BFE. And, Type 2 and 2R differ from each other in fluid resistance and breathability.
  • Masks often fit loosely, leaving gaps between the mask and your face. Fit test requirements do not apply as masks are not designed to reduce wearer exposure to airborne particulates.

    N95 respirators are designed to fit tightly, creating a seal between your face and the respirator. Requires fit testing and user seal checks.

  • N95 Respirators are designed to help reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, filter at least 95% of airborne particulate contaminants.

    Some approved respirators are designed to have the characteristics of both a respirator and a surgical mask. These products are often called “Surgical N95 respirators.” In the U.S., Surgical N95 respirators are both approved by NIOSH and cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in surgery.

  • Since 3M™ N95 Respirator is designed for occupational use, its size may not be applicable to children’s faces and will affect the effectiveness. It is therefore not suggested for children to use 3M™ N95 respirator till further notice.

  • PAPRs are a type of respirator that use a blower to force the ambient air through air-purifying elements. When properly selected and worn, PAPRs effectively filter airborne particulate hazards. They are designed to fit over some facial hair and they are available in a variety of styles and facepiece/headtop offerings.

  • It depends on different situations and environments. However, if breathing difficulty or any distress occurs, the wearer should immediately leave the hazardous area (such as the ward or the place with polluted air) and then take the respirator off.

    Respirators need to be changed in one of the following situations:

    • If respirator is soiled by such body fluid as blood or spittle;
    • If respirator is damaged.

Respiratory protection in healthcare


Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
Optimization of PPE

With supply challenges around the world, many facilities are looking to optimize their equipment. This section contains use and reuse information of N95 respirators.

Frequently asked questions on use and reuse of N95 respirators

  • How long can we wear the respirator? When should a new respirator be changed?

    It depends on different situations and environments. However, if breathing difficulty or any distress occurs, the wearer should immediately leave the hazardous area (such as the ward or the place with polluted air) and then take the respirator off.

    Respirators need to be changed in one of the following situations:

    • If respirator is soiled by such body fluid as blood or spittle;
    • If respirator is damaged.
  • Standard infection control practice usually requires disposal of masks and respirators after each patient interaction. Particles that may contain viruses, bacteria, etc. get captured on the N95 respirator filter fibers during use and remain on the fibers after use. Handling or storing the respirator after use against particles containing viruses, bacteria, etc. might contribute to result in contact transmission of the disease.

    We recognize the existing CDC guidelines recommending respirator reuse: When supplies of N95 respirators are depleted, a combination of approaches can be utilized to conserve supplies while safeguarding health care workers (see full CDC document here).

    There is no way of determining the maximum possible number of safe reuses for an N95 respirator. Safe N95 reuse is affected by a number of variables that impact respirator function and contamination over time.

    The decision to implement policies that permit extended use or limited reuse of N95 respirators should be made by the professionals who manage the institution’s respiratory protection program.

  • To be effective, a respirator needs to be worn correctly and worn throughout the duration of the hazardous exposure.

    Don:

    1. Hold the respirator in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor (If using a flat fold respirator; pull open the folds into a cup shape before placing in the palm of your hand).
    2. Place the N95 respirator on your face covering your nose and mouth.
    3. Pull the bottom strap up and over the top of your head and place at the back of your head below your ears.
    4. Pull the upper strap up and over top of your head, and put it behind your head at the crown of your head.
    5. Use both hands to mold the nosepiece to fit snugly against your nose and face.
    6. Perform a seal check according to manufacturer instructions to ensure there is a good seal against the skin.

    Doff for disposal: Do NOT touch the front of the respirator.

    1. Tilt your head forward. Then, use two hands to grab the bottom strap, pull to the sides, then over your head.
    2. Use both hands to grab the upper strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Keep tension on the upper strap as you remove it, which will let the mask fall forward and be removed
    3. Wash hands per facility protocol.
  • Re-Don:

    1. Wash hands per facility protocol
    2. Apply clean gloves
    3. Inspect respirator for holes, tears or other damage or soiling to surface, straps, metal nose strip and nose foam. Get a new respirator if damaged or soiled.
    4. Hold the respirator in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor (If using a flat fold respirator; pull open the folds into a cup shape before placing in the palm of your hand).
    5. Place the N95 respirator on your face covering your nose and mouth. Avoid touching the inside of the respirator.
    6. Pull the upper strap and put it behind your head and place at the back of your head.
    7. Pull the bottom strap up and over top of your head and put it behind your head below your ears.
    8. Use both hands to mold the nosepiece to fit snugly against your nose and face. Perform a seal check according to manufacturer instructions to ensure there is a good seal against the skin.
    9. Remove and discard gloves. Wash hands per facility protocol.

    Doff for storage and reuse:

    1. 1.Wash hands per facility protocol
    2. Apply clean gloves
    3. Tilt your head forward. Then, with gloves on, use two hands to grab the bottom strap, pull to the sides, then over your head.
    4. Use both hands to grab the upper strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Keep tension on the upper strap as you remove it, which will let the mask fall forward and be removed.
    5. Inspect respirator for holes, tears or other damage or soiling to surface, straps, metal nose strip and nose foam. Discard respirator if damaged or soiled.
    6. Place respirator in facility approved storage for reuse* and wash hands per facility protocol.

PPE and Skin Protection

PPE and Skin Protection

Extended use of PPE, particularly devices like respirators and face shields, may impact skin and cause various levels of skin breakdown. Explore some simple ways you can help minimize that breakdown.

Adequate fit and seal of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) such as N95 respirators with the skin are required to provide expected and effective exposure reduction. The proper seal helps ensure that the majority of inhaled air will travel through the respirator’s filter material. Anything that disrupts the fit and seal of the FFR will result in a reduction in the level of protection that the wearer can achieve with the FFR.

Helping you face the challenge

  • Facing the Challenge Graphic
    Tips for PPE Skin Protection

    Explore steps you can take to help protect yourself from skin breakdown due to extended PPE use.

     

  • 3M™ Cavilon™ Product Use for PPE Skin Protection
    3M™ Cavilon™ Product Use for PPE Skin Protection

    Certain 3M skin health products may help protect the skin and not interfere with the fit of the respirator including:

    • 3M™ Cavilon™ No Sting Barrier Film
    • 3M™ Cavilon™ Advanced Skin Protectant

    Learn more about skin protectant considerations and how to use Cavilon solutions for skin protection under your PPE.


Frequently asked questions on preventing PPE-related skin injuries

  • Can I use ointments (e.g. petroleum jelly) to protect my skin under a 3M filtering facepiece respirator (FFR), such as a N95 respirator?

    3M does not recommend the use of petroleum jelly (also known as petrolatum), ointments, or thick creams because of the potential for interference with the seal of any of 3M's FFR's, such as N95 respirators. Petroleum jelly may cause the respirator to slip around on the face.

  • Yes, 3M™ Cavilon™ No Sting Barrier Film will help protect intact skin from moisture and friction and, when used properly, would not be expected to interfere with the fit of 3M filtering facepiece respirators (FFR).

    • The 1 ml wipe or 1 ml wand applicator should be used.
    • The product should be applied to clean, dry skin over any area where the FFR is likely to cause friction and/or where moisture may collect, e.g. the bridge of the nose, cheeks, tops of ears, or forehead.
    • It can be used on the face, but should not be used in the eye, or on the eyelid.
    • The product should be allowed to dry completely (at least 90 seconds) before the FFR is donned (put on). This allows fluid to dry on the skin and vapors to dissipate.
      - Upon application, an odor may be noted as the solvent ingredient evaporates. The odor will disappear as the product dries.
    • Always read and follow all respirator user instructions, including conducting a use seal check every time the respirator is donned (put on).
    • We recommend starting with a once daily application. If the user experiences buildup of the product, decrease the frequency of application, e.g. 3 times/week.
    • Cavilon No Sting Barrier Film does not require removal but can be removed with a medical grade adhesive remover.
    • Every time an FFR is donned, the wearer must conduct a user seal check. If a successful user seal check cannot be conducted, the wearer should not use the product with the respirator.

    *Please refer to the product inserts (Instructions for use) for 3M™ Cavilon™ No Sting Barrier Film and/or 3M™ Cavilon™ Advanced Skin Protectant for complete Indications and Instructions for Use, Contraindications, Precautions, and Warnings.

  • 3M™ Cavilon™ Advanced Skin Protectant*,** can be used to help protect damaged skin, e.g. abrasions from friction or other superficial skin damage

    • The 0.7 ml applicator is recommended.
    • It can be used on the face, but should not be applied in or near the eye
    • The product should be applied in a thin layer
    • The product should be allowed to dry completely (at least 90 seconds) before the FFR is donned (put on). This allows fluid to dry on the skin and vapors to dissipate.
      - Upon application, an odor may be noted as the solvent ingredient evaporates. The odor will disappear as the product dries.
    • Always read and follow all respirator user instructions, including conducting a use seal check every time the respirator is donned (put on).
    • We recommend starting with a 2-3 times per week application. If the user notes buildup of the product, decrease the frequency of application, e.g. 1-2 times/week.
    • Cavilon Advanced Skin Protectant does not require removal but can be removed with a medical adhesive remover containing hexamethyldisiloxane or a silicone.
    • Every time an FFR is donned, the wearer must conduct a user seal check. If a successful user seal check cannot be conducted, the wearer should not use the product with the respirator.

    *Please refer to the product inserts (Instructions for use) for 3M™ Cavilon™ No Sting Barrier Film and/or 3M™ Cavilon™ Advanced Skin Protectant for complete Indications and Instructions for Use, Contraindications, Precautions, and Warnings.

    ** Federal Law (U.S.A.) restricts the device to sale by or on the order of a health care professional

  • 3M does not recommend use of dressings such as polyurethane foams and hydrocolloids. These types of dressings can raise the respirator off the cheeks and nose and may interfere with the intended seal and exposure reduction associated with the respirator.

    • If use of a dressing or bandage is desired, select the thinnest dressing available (e.g. 3M™ Tegaderm™ Transparent Film Dressing) AND perform fit testing, as well as a user seal check every time the respirator is donned (put on).
      - The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires, “The fit test shall be performed while the test subject is wearing any applicable safety equipment that may be worn during actual respirator use which could interfere with respirator fit” (29 CFR § 1910.134 Appendix A). ISO 16975-3:2017 Part 3 also includes this requirement.
      - Outside the United States, the health care facility should be familiar with applicable local standards.
    • For those respirators with adjustable headbands, it is important to not over-tighten 3M filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) such as N95 respirators as this can interfere with the seal against the skin and increase the risk of pressure-related skin damage

    Note: Dressings or film barriers can be used to help prevent or cover areas of skin damage under equipment, such as face shields, where fit and seal is not critical to the function of the protective equipment.

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