2020 brought us a lot to think about through COVID-19. During the first few months, it became very apparent that we did not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) stored up to deal with the pandemic. Not only did we not have enough, but we couldn't make enough to keep up with the demand. There were shortages, confusion, and a general awakening to the need for more PPE. However, as a result of this development, some realized that perhaps more PPE was not necessarily the only solution to the scarcity of N95 masks.
One proposed solution was the decontamination and reuse of N95 respirators. As this idea began to gain traction across the country, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization to allow healthcare workers to decontaminate and reuse N95 respirators. At the heels of this announcement, CS Medical teamed up with AirClean Systems to provide healthcare workers on the front lines with a way to decontaminate masks quickly and for low cost: a UV Light Box.
According to sources at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), N95DECON, and The University of Nebraska, UV-C light is an approved method for decontaminating N95 respirators for reuse. Penn Medicine backs these approvals with science which shows that, "UV light kills or inactivates microorganisms by disrupting their DNA and replication. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of whole room UV as a disinfectant against coronaviruses, including MHV and MERS-CoV, and that UV light can be used to disinfect N95 masks against contamination with the influenza virus."
Decontaminating N95 masks in the UV Light Box is a very quick and simple process requiring UV exposure for only thirty minutes per side. After decontamination, masks should always be checked for proper fit before use. It is advised that each mask only undergo decontamination a total of five times as UV irradiation can break down the material of the mask over time. Always follow local and federal government agency guidelines regarding PPE decontamination and reuse.