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[How to] REUSING N-95 MASKS
#1
REUSING N-95 MASKS
An interesting note from Duke University...

Quote:Duke Starts Novel Decontamination of N95 Masks to Help Relieve Shortages
The process uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide to kill germs without degrading the masks

Published March 26, 2020 | Updated March 26, 2020


Facing a critical shortage of N95 face masks that block the coronavirus, Duke Health research and clinical teams have confirmed a way to use existing vaporized hydrogen peroxide methods to decontaminate the masks so they can be reused.

The process uses specialized equipment to aerosolize hydrogen peroxide, which permeates  the layers of the mask to kills germs, including viruses, without degrading the mask material. 

“This is a decontamination technology and method we’ve used for years in our biocontainment laboratory,” said Scott Alderman, associate director of the Duke Regional Biocontainment Laboratory.

“We had never considered needing it for something like face masks. But we’ve now proven that it works and will begin using the technology immediately in all three Duke Health hospitals,” said Matthew Stiegel, Ph.D., director of the Occupational and Environmental safety Office.

The decontamination process should keep a significant number of N95 masks in use at Duke University Hospital as well as Duke Regional and Duke Raleigh hospitals, easing some of the shortage and curbing the need for other alternatives using unproven decontamination techniques.

The use of hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate N95 masks was tested and published by others in 2016, but did not result in widespread adaptation. The earlier studies did not include fit testing after cleaning – basically sizing the masks for individual wearers - to prove efficacy in the real world, which Duke has now done.

The decontamination process requires specialized equipment that aerosolizes the hydrogen peroxide, and a closed facility where the masks can be exposed to the vapor. No toxic byproducts result, because hydrogen peroxide breaks down to water.

“The ability to reuse the crucial N95 masks will boost the hospitals’ ability to protect frontline health care workers during this time of critical shortages of N95 masks,” said Cameron Wolfe, M.D., associate professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist. 

Monte Brown, M.D., vice president at Duke University Health System, said the Duke team is working to spread the word about the technique, making the protocols widely available. He said several health systems and many pharmaceutical companies already have the needed equipment, which is currently used in different ways, and could ramp up operations to come to the aid of their local hospitals.

“We could stand up in front of our staff and state with confidence that we are using a proven decontamination method,” Brown said. “It has been a proven method for years. While this alone will not solve the problem, if we and others can reuse masks even once or twice, that would be a huge benefit given the current shortages.”

Makes me wonder if you could make your own unit using a fish tank and a cheap nebulizer? Considering the cost of masks, it might be cost-effective and pay for itself.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
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#2
RE: REUSING N-95 MASKS
I have worked with this technology. It requires very specialized equipment and environmental control with respect to temperature and relative humidity. It is actually a vapor and not an aerosol. What you propose may provide some surface decontamination but would not penetrate. Also, it would wet the masks. I don't know if that would harm them or not. Vapor phase hydrogen peroxide does not wet the surfaces to be sanitized/sterilized. In fact condensation reduces the efficacy.
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#3
RE: REUSING N-95 MASKS
(03-27-2020, 01:12 AM)Melman Wrote: Also, it would wet the masks. I don't know if that would harm them or not.

Wetting the masks with alcohol or bleach damages the masks according to Stanford Medicine. I'd think that could apply to other liquid disinfectants as well.

   

https://stanfordmedicine.app.box.com/v/c...yvmYCbE5ms
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#4
RE: REUSING N-95 MASKS
Interesting. I have a box of 20 masks I bought before the crisis and I was going to simply line them up on a shelf in my garage as I use them. I only wear them to buy groceries and Dr. appointments so they should last for weeks. My plan was to let them dry in the hot garage and re use them if I needed. 

Any thoughts?
CPAP is a journey like “The Wizard of Oz”. It’s a long slow journey. You will face many problems and pick up many friends along the way. Just because you reach the poppies, it doesn’t mean you are in Kansas. 
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#5
RE: REUSING N-95 MASKS
I have tried to find the effect of using So Clean. It is tough to find anything specific on using ozone cleaners and nothing specific to disinfect N95 face masks. People have put their CPAP masks in them including those with the quiet air elbow. FDA and Resmed do not recommend using them, but I have not heard any adverse effects on CPAP masks if they are left to air out.

But, I would think putting them out in the sun for a week or two is probably the best course of action.

John
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