Reusing N95: Innovations To Beat The Shortage

Reusing N95: Innovations To Beat The Shortage

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Reusing N95: Innovations To Beat The Shortage

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N95 Masks are an integral part of the Personal Protective Equipment for all frontline workers. They were never designed to be reused. But the COVID-19 pandemic has left the world grappling with a shortage of N95 masks, putting our frontline workers at considerable risk of exposure. There is a massive effort globally to find solutions to provide N95 mask, include increased production and finding innovative ways to enable the reuse of the single use mask.

One such innovation has come out of the Virginia Commonwealth University Health (VCU Health), that has developed a decontamination process for the N95 masks, using high intensity UV rays. The process designed by VCU Health can decontaminate upto 12000 masks in one go.

Talking to us about the process, Zuhayr Shaikh, one of the team members who designed the N95 Respirator Decontamination Unit at VCU Health, said that the innovation was a collaboration between different departments at VCU and that they worked with available resources, studying what others across the world are doing, to see how the decontamination process can be improved upon.


There are a few other methods of N95 decontamination that are being used right now, including using of steam and alcohol to clean the masks. These methods decrease the efficacy of the masks. The FDA has approved the use of Hydrogen Peroxide to clean N95 masks and this method allows the masks to be reused upto 20 times. The UV ray decontamination process allows the masks to be reused anywhere between 10 to 20 times. Shaikh and his team members Ajay Potluri and Eugene Ablordeppey, believe that this method can be easily adapted, and are already sharing their designs with other universities and hospitals. “We believe that others will improve and adapt this design, as we have done, working with the constraints they face”.

With 11 to 22 percent of healthcare workers, globally having tested positive for COVID-19, innovation is the only hope to address the shortage of PPEs, so that we can keep these frontline warriors safe.

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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