Decontaminating N95 respirators during the COVID-19 pandemic: simple and practical approaches to increase decontamination capacity, speed, safety and ease of use

R. Russo, C. Levine, C. Grady, B. Peixoto, J. McCormick-Ell, T. Block, A. Gresko, G. Delmas, P. Chitale, A. Frees, A. Ruiz, D. Alland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially N95 respirators. Efficient, effective and economically feasible methods for large-scale PPE decontamination are urgently needed. Aims: (1) to develop protocols for effectively decontaminating PPE using vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP); (2) to develop novel approaches that decrease set-up and take-down time while also increasing decontamination capacity; (3) to test decontamination efficiency for N95 respirators heavily contaminated by make-up or moisturizers. Methods: We converted a decommissioned Biosafety Level 3 laboratory into a facility that could be used to decontaminate N95 respirators. N95 respirators were hung on metal racks, stacked in piles, placed in paper bags or covered with make-up or moisturizer. A VHP® VICTORY™ unit from STERIS was used to inject VHP into the facility. Biological and chemical indicators were used to validate the decontamination process. Findings: N95 respirators individually hung on metal racks were successfully decontaminated using VHP. N95 respirators were also successfully decontaminated when placed in closed paper bags or if stacked in piles of up to six. Stacking reduced the time needed to arrange N95 respirators for decontamination by approximately two-thirds while almost tripling facility capacity. Make-up and moisturizer creams did not interfere with the decontamination process. Conclusions: Respirator stacking can reduce the hands-on time and increase decontamination capacity. When personalization is needed, respirators can be decontaminated in labelled paper bags. Make up or moisturizers do not appear to interfere with VHP decontamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Volume109
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Decontamination
  • N95 respirators
  • Vaporized hydrogen peroxide

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Decontaminating N95 respirators during the COVID-19 pandemic: simple and practical approaches to increase decontamination capacity, speed, safety and ease of use'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this