N95 Mask Decontamination Information
Interest in decontamination and re-use of N95 and similarly rated particle filtering masks* designed for single use has skyrocketed due to extraordinary demand that cannot be met during the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a decontamination technique to be considered worthy it must satisfy at least 4 criteria.
1) Effective in inactivating the targeted pathogen
2) Preserve desired particle filtration after decontamination
3) Preserve mask fit
4) Be safe for reuse
The most promising techniques appear to involve heat (wet or dry), hydrogen peroxide, and ultraviolet light. Other decontamination techniques such as alcohols, high heat, and bleach were shown by multiple investigators to destroy the filtering properties of the masks. Readers should note constraints and limitations for each study. Not all assessed masks fit after processing. Decontamination was assessed using established norms or by the inactivation of pathogens other than SARS-CoV-2, due to tests being performed before the current pandemic or the risks that would have been incurred. How many times the fabric or whole masks were re-sterilized also varies. Some websites, such as those from the Centers for Disease Control and the industry-academic consortium N95Decon.org are being continuously updated with new information and potential recommendations as they become available.
We have assembled potentially useful resources and references on this topic.
*Filtering Face Piece grades 2,3 (FFP2, FFP3) – Euro standards for N95 type masks
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