A study team assessed 4 methods of N95 mask decontamination, with results suggesting that proper procedure can allow the reuse of masks 2-3 times.
A study team publishing in Emerging Infectious Diseases assessed 4 methods of N95 mask decontamination, with results suggesting that proper procedure can allow the reuse of masks 2-3 times.
Due to global supply chain disruptions of personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination of single-use items has come into focus as a potential way to extend the world’s PPE stockpiles. Authors emphasized that a proper fit is essential to the masks continuing to work.
While N95 respirators are designed to be used once, there is a historical basis for decontaminating the masks during outbreaks of other respiratory viruses.
The team analyzed 4 decontamination methods:
For each of the decontamination methods, the investigators compared the normal inactivation rate of SARS-CoV-2 on N95 filter fabric to that on stainless steel.
“Using quantitative fit testing, we measured the filtration performance of N95 respirators after each decontamination run and 2 hours of wear, for 3 consecutive decontamination and wear sessions,” investigators reported.
Experiments suggest that the filtration performance of the N95 respirator was not substantially reduced after 1 decontamination using any of the decontamination methods.
Subsequent rounds of decontamination caused sharp drops in filtration performance of ethanol-treated masks:
The amount of time required for decontamination depends upon the concentration of virus contamination.