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Study: Evaluation of Five Decontamination Methods for Filtering Facepiece Respirators

Publication Date: 2009


Concerns have been raised regarding the availability of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) during a pandemic. One possible strategy to mitigate a respirator shortage is to reuse FFRs following a biological decontamination process to render infectious material on the FFR inactive.


However, little data exist on the effects of decontamination methods on respirator integrity and performance.


This study evaluated five decontamination methods [ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), ethylene oxide, vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP), microwave oven irradiation, and bleach] using nine models of NIOSH-certified respirators (three models each of N95 FFRs, surgical N95 respirators, and P100 FFRs) to determine which methods should be considered for future research studies. Following treatment by each decontamination method, the FFRs were evaluated for changes in physical appearance, odor, and laboratory performance (filter aerosol penetration and filter airflow resistance).


Microwave oven irradiation melted samples from two FFR models. The remainder of the FFR samples that had been decontaminated had expected levels of filter aerosol penetration and filter airflow resistance. The scent of bleach remained noticeable following overnight drying and low levels of chlorine gas were found to off-gas from bleach-decontaminated FFRs when rehydrated with deionized water.


UVGI, ethylene oxide (EtO), and VHP were found to be the most promising decontamination methods; however, concerns remain about the throughput capabilities for EtO and VHP.


The full report can be found here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781738/




About the Mask-Sanitizer:


The Mask-Sanitizer is a Portable On-Site Face Mask Disinfection Chamber for disposable face masks. The disinfection method is eight (8) germicidal UV-C bulbs positioned in front of and behind the N95 face masks. 10 face masks can be disinfected during each 15-minute cycle. The Mask-Sanitizer can be used at hospitals, fire stations, police stations, nursing homes, etc., and can be located near the actual point of use. One or more mask-sanitizers can be located at each station, department, wing, hallway or emergency room, so there is no need to handle and disinfect mass numbers of masks at a central or off-site location. The Mask-Sanitizer is simple to operate, easy to roll around, and versatile enough to be transported in the back of a minivan or SUV.

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