Personal Protective Equipment: Questions About PPEs Answered

There has been a significantly higher demand for personal protective equipment in the past couple of months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While PPEs are mostly required for frontline healthcare and some essential workers, regular folks have taken to buying some for their own protection against the disease. Just as a fine needle holder or a surgical table is important in performing operations, PPEs are vital in the fight against the global health crisis we’re facing.

What are PPEs?

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. These are gear and equipment used by healthcare workers to protect them from infectious agents (such as germs and viruses) as they perform their duties. Some examples of PPEs used in the healthcare profession include surgical masks, long-sleeved gowns, gloves, face visors, respirator masks, goggles, face shields, and aprons.

What makes manufacturers guarantee their PPEs are safe?

PPE manufacturers are expected to comply with FDA standards according to Quality Systems Regulations and Good Manufacturing Practices. This is to ensure that all medical devices — including PPEs — are safe to use and effective.

PPEs are tested for leak protection, fluid resistance, filtering capacity, and tear or snag resistance. If the products pass all these tests and other FDA standards, there is enough reasonable assurance that they are safe.

Will it help protect a person against certain types of diseases?

PPEs are designed to provide its wearers a barrier to prevent penetration of substances — solid, liquid, or airborne. Generally, both the FDA and PPE manufacturers cannot give guarantees that PPEs can protect you from diseases, such as COVID-19 unless there is enough significant data to support it.

In cases of outbreaks or pandemics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes specific recommendations and guidelines to prevent and control the rapid spread of diseases in certain settings and circumstances.

Where can I buy them?

Most PPEs can be bought at pharmacies and other medical supplies shops with no prescription needed. They are also available in online medical retailer shops, however, you need to be more vigilant when it comes to online purchases.

Are PPEs reusable?

Most PPEs are generally designed to be single-use only. This means that it can only be used once by one person and should never be shared with another after use. However, certain PPEs can be reused, such as protective eyewear and some other types of elastomeric respirator masks, provided that the wearer strictly follows decontamination and sterilizing methods indicated in the product labels.

How do I properly dispose of them?

man wearing ppe

PPEs exposed to highly infectious substances and materials should be promptly removed and properly disposed of. The CDC has certain guidelines in place for proper PPE removal and disposal. It is important to take note that even if the PPE you’re wearing successfully protects you from getting infected, improper (and irresponsible) removal and disposal PPEs — especially contaminated ones — will expose you and other people to infection.

We hope that you have found the information in this guide useful. The best ways to fight COVID-19 apart from the use of PPEs are observing frequent handwashing, proper hygiene, and social distancing. Of course, staying home is one of the easiest things you can do to help our frontline workers fight this war. Do your part. Stay home.

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