The area I live in has a regulation that people should wear PPE when visiting grocery stores, etc. There is a shortage of PPE. I have access to some non-reusable FFP2-class respirators that are intended to be used during a 8 hours shift (similar to this one). Reuse of disposable respirators has been suggested as a crisis measure during the shortage. I have been reusing my respirators for a while, but by now I have used each of them for more than 8 hours.

Until I can replenish my stock, I have a choice between using the repsirators beyond the designated 8 hours, or resort to cloth masks, which are widely available / widely used in my area. A cloth mask is basically nothing more than a piece of cloth that can be attached to one's face.

My research so far

I'm by no means an expert, so correct me if I'm wrong. From what I understand cloth masks offer almost no protection against viruses. Respirators, on the other hand, offer some degree of protection due to being able to filter out particles/droplets from the inhaled air thanks to the electrostatic charge of the filter material. However, I wasn't able to find any info on the following:


What happens to the respirator during the prolonged use?

Why is the use time limited? Is it because the contamination of filter layers reduces the electrostatic charge?

Most importantly, can a respirator at some point become less useful / more harmful than a cloth mask? (assuming that the user knows how to don/doff and store the respirators properly).

  • Does this answer your question? It's not exactly a duplicate, but any answer to this question would largely duplicate the answers to that question. – Carey Gregory Jun 28 '20 at 22:11
  • 1
    @CareyGregory Thank you. Unfortunately it doesn't really answer my question. It contains various suggestions on how to sterilize the respirators, whereas I am more interested in how prolonged use affects the filtering properties of the respirator. – infranoise Jul 1 '20 at 7:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.