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Ho Ching says: don’t get into a tizzy about the shelf life of masks, expiration is a “general recommendation”

The PM's wife was saying this in response to recent news in Ontario, Canada, where a vast amount of stockpiled masks have expired

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Singapore – After the news of millions of stockpiled masks in Canada having expired before the Covid-19 outbreak, Ho Ching responds by saying that “expired masks could still be useable.”

On Tuesday (March 10), CEO of Temasek Holdings, Ho Ching, took to Facebook to respond to recent news that occurred in Ontario, Canada, where the stockpiled masks have expired.

According to a report by channelnewsasia.com, Ontario reserved around 55 million N95 masks, among other medical equipment after the SARS epidemic in 2003. Provincial officials then revealed that the masks had passed their expiration date, although the number of masks were not specified.

“Masks have a shelf life for various reasons,” said Ms Ho who shared the news. “It is important to have a life cycle approach to items which have a shelf life so that it is a flow-through system, with spending spread annually,” she advised.

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However, Ms Ho added that the expiration date stamped on a face mask is “a general recommendation.” They may still be of use depending on how they’ve been stored, she said.

Ms Ho explained that “we can always do sampling tests to check the conditions and performance of an expired mask to see if it is still useable.”

The standard shelf life of a 3M N95 face mask is five years from production date, as advised and approved by the National Institute for Operational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NIOSH released a list of N95 filtering face piece respirators that could be used past their expiry date, “if the storage conditions have generally been in accordance with the manufacturer-recommended storage conditions,” said the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Photo: Taken from the California Department of Public Health website

Respirators past their expiration date may not provide the protection for which they were certified, said the CDPH.

In her post, Ms Ho added that a face mask’s performance “does not drop in a cliff-like manner.” It may deteriorate over time slowly, “so an 80 per cent performance level is still acceptable if there are no fresh new masks available,” said Ms Ho. “So don’t get into a tizzy about the shelf life of masks.”

Masks have a shelf life for various reasons. Hence, it is important to have a life cycle approach to items which have…

Posted by HO Ching on Monday, March 9, 2020

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