Since the onset of the pandemic, many hospitals have faced a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks. As a result, researchers have started evaluating the impact of various methods of decontamination on how well masks filter out viral particles — all in a bid to allow for the safe reuse of PPE and thus protect health care workers and their patients.
Adding to that body of research, a recent study has found that using dry heat can disinfect N95 masks for reuse in institutions hit by PPE shortages.
“Our study demonstrated that treatment of N95 face masks using dry heat was sufficient to inactivate COVID-19, while preserving the ability of these masks to filter aerosolized particles for potentially exposed workers,” says lead author Kenneth Shroyer, professor at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.
As part of the study, the researchers focused on the use of dry heat sterilization to disinfect the masks because heat is potentially more readily available in most hospitals or outpatient clinical care facilities.
The study findings indicate that when no other decontamination alternatives are available, dry heat can be a viable solution to disinfect N95 masks and ensure the safety of health care workers.
Source study: PLOS ONE – Dry heat sterilization as a method to recycle N95 respirator masks: The importance of fit