With Omicron on the loose and more and more specialists asking health workers and the general public to use better masks, this study has some good news.
The new study found that the same N95 mask can be decontaminated at least 25 times and still be effective at protecting the wearer against SARS-CoV-2 virus particles.
The study was done by using UV light or vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) to kill off the COVID-19 particles.
“Most VHP studies were limited to evaluating decontamination efficacy, respirator filtration after 5-10 cycles, or fit on a mannequin.
We sought to determine whether repeated VHP reprocessing would affect N95 respirator integrity as defined by qualitative and quantitative fit and filtration efficiency over 25 reprocessing cycles,” the research team wrote.
The testing was done from June to August 2020 and assessed seven volunteers wearing N95 respirators from 3M. After 25 cycles of decontamination, the team found the masks were still passing all the checks?
Why not more? It’s because of an FDA report that says that, by 35 cycles, the N95 straps start to degrade, which means a tight seal could not be achieved.