The International Society for Respiratory Protection

pdf Vol. 37, No. 1, 2020 pp. 52 - 60 Yorio (open access) Popular


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Planning for Epidemics and Pandemics: Assessing the Potential Impact of Extended Use and Reuse Strategies on Respirator Usage Rates to Support Supply-and-Demand Planning Efforts

Patrick L. Yorio, Edward M. Fisher, F Selcen Kilinc-Balci, Dana Rottach, Joshua Harney, Melissa Seaton, Matthew M. Dahm, and Todd Niemeier

During epidemics and pandemics healthcare personnel (HCP) are on the front line of disease containment and mitigation. Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), serve an important role in minimizing HCP risks and are in high demand during public health emergencies. Because PPE demand can exceed supply, various public health strategies have been developed to reduce the rate of PPE consumption as supply dwindles. Extended use and limited reuse of N95 FFRs are strategies advocated by many governmental agencies used to increase the number of times a device can be used. Increased use of respirators designed for reuse—such as powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) and elastomeric half-mask and full facepiece air-purifying respirators— is another option designed to reduce the continuous need for new devices as the daily need for respirator use increases. Together, these strategies are designed to reduce the number of PPE units that must be discarded daily and, therefore, extend the longevity of available supply. The purpose of this paper is to theoretically estimate the impact of extended use and limited reuse strategies for N95 FFRs and the increased use of reusable respirator options on PPE consumed. The results suggest that a considerable reduction in PPE consumption would result from extended use and limited reuse of N95 FFRs and the increased use of respirators designed for reuse; however, the practical benefits must be balanced with the risks and economic costs. In addition, extended use and reuse strategies must be accompanied by proper procedures to reduce risk. The study is designed to support epidemic and pandemic PPE supply and demand planning efforts.

Keywords: COVID-19, N95 respirator, filtering facepiece respirator, pandemic response, crisis capacity, respirator shortage, reuse, extended use