Stockpiled N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator Polyisoprene Strap Performance
Dana R. Rottach, Zhipeng Lei
Long term storage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in stockpiles is increasingly common in preparation for use during public health emergency responses. Confidence in PPE requires an understanding of the impact of time in storage on all aspects of PPE effectiveness, including protection against inward leakage. Disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) typically rely upon inexpensive elastomeric head straps to provide an effective seal between the filter body and the wearer’s face. Annual fit testing provides a measure of assurance that a model fresh from the manufacturer will prove effective, but seal quality may degrade during long term storage. This study examines the stability of a selection of polyisoprene elastomer straps taken from various ages of common N95 FFRs. The tension of the straps at a predetermined strain of 150% was found to differ according to age for one respirator model, though whether due to age or due to manufacturing variations could not be determined. The straps from one manufacturer were found to have notable variation in length, indicating that minor variations in strap tensile properties may not result in significant differences in respirator seal quality. Based on our observations, prolonged storage may affect the tensile properties of headstraps for some models of N95.
Keywords: filtering facepiece respirators, stockpile respirators, respirator straps, tensile properties.