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|N95 Mask Decontamination using Standard Hospital Sterilization Technologies|
Samantha B. Kasloff.
James E. Strong.
|The response to the COVID19 epidemic is generating severe shortages of personal protective equipment around the world. In particular, the supply of N95 respirator masks has become severely depleted with supplies having to be rationed and health care workers having to use masks for prolonged periods in many countries. We sought to test the ability of 4 different decontamination methods including autoclave treatment, ethylene oxide gassing, ionized hydrogen peroxide fogging and vaporized hydrogen peroxide exposure to decontaminate 4 different N95 masks of experimental contamination with SARS-CoV-2 or vesicular stomatitis virus as a surrogate. In addition, we sought to determine whether masks would tolerate repeated cycles of decontamination while maintaining structural and functional integrity. We found that one cycle of treatment with all modalities was effective in decontamination and was associated with no structural or functional deterioration. Vaporized hydrogen peroxide treatment was tolerated to at least 5 cycles by masks. Most notably, standard autoclave treatment was associated with no loss of structural or functional integrity to a minimum of 10 cycles for the 3 pleated mask models. The molded N95 mask however tolerated only 1 cycle. This last finding may be of particular use to institutions globally due to the virtually universal accessibility of autoclaves in health care settings.|
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