Co-author of the study James Lloyd-Smith told PTI that although the N-95 face mask is supposed to be worn only once before its disposal, in view of the acute shortage of the critical equipment, it could be re-used upto three times after decontamination.
N-95 face mask, which is one of the most vital protective equipment worn by healthcare workers, can be reused for more than one time after it has been decontaminated. These findings are as per a study that has been published in a journal called ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases’. The mask which has been proved most effective in blocking the Covid-19 particles in various studies has also been in short supply causing danger to the lives of health workers. The study which could come to the rescue of many health workers has proved that the face mask can be used upto three times after it has been decontaminated every time with the use of various techniques including dry heat, UV light among others, PTI reported. However, the authors of the study have also said that the reuse of the mask is only recommendable if the fit and seal of the mask is intact.
Co-author of the study James Lloyd-Smith told PTI that although the N-95 face mask is supposed to be worn only once before its disposal, in view of the acute shortage of the critical equipment, it could be re-used upto three times after decontamination. He also highlighted that the fit and sea of the mask must remain intact if it is to be re-used.
As part of the study, the scientists tried various decontamination methods on a small section of the mask which had been brought in contact with the virus. The decontamination methods included the use of the vaporised hydrogen peroxide, ultraviolet light (UV), dry heat at 70 degrees and a 70 percent ethanol spray. According to the PTI report all four of the decontamination methods proved successful in removing the particles of the virus.
However, different cleaning methods affected the fit and the seal of the virus to a different extent. The scientists found that the use of vaporised hydrogen peroxide not only removed the traces of the virus particles but also did not harm the seal and size of the virus. On the other hand, the masks decontaminated with the use of UV light and dry heat took a toll on the fit and seal of the virus. The scientists then concluded that the masks decontaminated with the use of vaporised hydrogen peroxide could be reused upto a maximum of 3 times while those decontaminated by other methods only upto two times only.
The researchers also found that a 10 minute treatment of vaporised hydrogen peroxide proved enough to cleanse the face mask while at least a 60 minute treatment was required in the case of UV light and dry heat. The researchers also found that the ethanol spray substantially damaged the integrity of the mask fit and seal and advised against its use.