National Institute of Health Validates Decontamination Methods for N95 Respirators

Apr 20, 2020

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has studied and validated processes for decontaminating single-use 95 respirator masks, allowing a single mask to be used up to three times. It’s important to note that the findings have not yet peer-reviewed, but researchers are sharing the preliminary data to assist the public health response to COVID-19.

The study took place at NIH’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana and tested four different decontamination methods, including (1) vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP), (2) 70-degree Celsius dry heat, (3) ultraviolet light, and (4) 70% ethanol spray. All four methods eliminated detectable amounts of the COVID-19 virus. Furthermore, the study validated their reuse durability by having volunteers wear the masks for two hours to determine if they maintained their vitality. Then, the decontamination method was repeated three times with each mask using the same procedure.

Researchers found that ethanol spray and the UV and heat-treated masks did not hold up for three reiterations and concluded that masks treated with VHP experienced no failures and is the best option.

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