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Duke researchers are decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them to treat coronavirus patients

N95 respirator masks that health care workers need to protect themselves while treating coronavirus patients are in dangerously short supply.

So much so that physicians are wearing used respirators, risking infection to care for patients.
But now, Duke University researchers have developed a method to clean them so they can be safely re-worn.
Donations of respirator masks and other medical supplies needed at American hospitals coming from unlikely sources
Donations of respirator masks and other medical supplies needed at American hospitals coming from unlikely sources
The team at the Duke Regional Biocontainment Laboratory has already decontaminated hundreds of N95 respirators without damaging them so they can be re-worn several times. It could provide significant relief for hospitals running low on supply.
The researchers published their decontaminating protocol so other hospitals can follow their lead.
Using vaporized hydrogen peroxide, the researchers can kill microbial contaminants that lurk on the masks after they’re worn.
It’s a method labs have used for decades to decontaminate equipment, said Wayne Thomann, director emeritus of the Duke Occupational & Environmental Safety Office.
But the team never thought they’d need it for face masks.
How they do it
Decontaminating requires special equipment in a closed facility to handle the hydrogen peroxide. But the process has already been carried out at Duke Health hospital complexes and can occur at other hospitals, too.
The team can clean up to 500 masks in one cycle, which takes over four hours. They’re working to expand that capacity.
People around the country are sewing masks. And some hospitals, facing dire shortage, welcome them
People around the country are sewing masks. And some hospitals, facing dire shortage, welcome them
Previous research showed that the respirators could be decontaminated and re-worn between 30 to 50 times, but Thomann and the biocontainment lab crew are still evaluating how often they can be re-worn after treating coronavirus patients.
“It will certainly be less than 30, and we will be conservative to ensure performance and safety,” Thomann told CNN in an email.
The masks tolerate the decontamination well, he said, so the process doesn’t damage them or make them less effective.
Before redistributing the respiratory masks, the team inspects them for tears to make sure they haven’t lost their shape — they must fit snugly and cover the entire mouth to be effective.
N95 masks are essential to fight coronavirus
Personal protective equipment (PPE) like respirator masks, eye masks, gloves and gowns are essential for health care workers treating coronavirus patients. The virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets — meaning spit, coughs and sneezes — and any workers caring for those patients are routinely exposed to the virus.
And if physicians and nurses are sickened, there are fewer people to care for patients.

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10 Comments

  1. Reply

    Duke researchers are decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them to treat coronavirus patients

  2. Reply

    That’s good

  3. Reply

    Good

  4. Reply

    Nice info

  5. Reply

    Thanks for update

  6. Reply

    God bless them big

  7. Reply

    Informative

  8. Reply

    Good

  9. Reply

    Decontaminating requires special equipment in a closed facility to handle the hydrogen peroxide.

  10. Reply

    Good

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