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Once the shipment arrives, TSA will distribute them to airports, as needed.
According to reports, a stockpile of 1.5 million expired masks will be sent out – a decision made by officials with the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday, sources told The Washington Post. A spokesperson for the CBP was not immediately available to confirm the number of masks TSA would receive, or when they were being shipped.
Nathan Peeters, a CBP spokesman, told the Post the agency has been “working with our DHS partners to determine the best use for N95 respirators in CBP’s emergency stockpile.”
While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend using N95 respirator masks past the manufacturer’s expiration date, the agency has recently made concessions based on demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.
As long as the masks have been stored correctly, the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have concluded from a study that “many models have continued to perform in accordance with NIOSH performance standards.”
“This preliminary information from the NIOSH study suggests certain N95 models beyond their manufacturer-designated shelf life will be protective,” a summary of the study stated, as long as the “stockpile conditions have generally been in accordance with the manufacturer-recommended storage conditions and an OSHA-compliant respiratory protection program is used by employers.”
The TSA has been started allowing employees to wear both eye protection and N95 respirator masks. Nitrile gloves continue to be mandatory, according to a statement to Fox News.
“TSA will continue to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding workforce protection. We are working closely with CDC and will follow any additional guidance that is issued,” the statement concluded.