In-Depth: Mask certifications and replacements

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The letters and numbers on masks can be tricky to figure out. Here’s what the United States certifies compared to other areas of the world.

In the U.S., N95, R95, and P95 are all certified. However, because of the current demand and supply chain shortages, the majority of masks available in the states are the KN95s. Those are certified in China, along with KP95s.

Less likely to see, FFP2 masks are certified in Europe.

The numbers and letters are printed on masks.

However, the fit of the mask is key, dependent on the person, and just as important as the type.

But how long does that good filtration last?

Last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave some direction on reuse since there was a shortage, saying medical-grade masks only last for five uses unless the label says otherwise.

Earlier this week, The San Francisco Chronicle talked to some infectious disease experts for updated guidance.

They say the biggest factors are how long it’s worn during one use and what setting it’s being used in. For those who work in healthcare, it should only be used for one day.

When it comes to taking it off, try to use the ear loops because touching the front of the mask can contaminate it.

To check a current mask, look for wetness or dirt on the filter.

Right now there’s no way to sanitize medical-grade masks, and they should be thrown out in the garbage, not the recycling.