The N95 respirator masks that health care workers need to protect themselves while treating coronavirus patients are in dangerously short supply.
So much so that physicians are wearing used respirators, risking infection to care for patients.But now, Duke University researchers have developed a method to clean them.
The Duke Regional Biocontainment Laboratory team has already decontaminated hundreds of N95 respirators without damaging them so they can be re-worn several times. It could provide significant relief for hospitals running low on supply.
The researchers published their decontaminating protocol so other hospitals can follow their lead.
Using vaporized hydrogen peroxide, the researchers can kill microbial contaminants that lurk on the masks after they're worn.
It's a method that labs have used for decades to decontaminate equipment, said Wayne Thomann, director emeritus of the Duke Occupational & Environmental Safety Office.
But they never thought they'd need it for face masks.