Dry Heat as a Decontamination Method for N95 Respirator Reuse
A pandemic such as COVID-19 can cause a sudden depletion in the worldwide supply of respirators, forcing healthcare providers to reuse them. In this study, we systematically evaluated dry heat treatment as a viable option for the safe decontamination of N95 respirators (1860, 3M) before its reuse. We found that the dry heat generated by an electric cooker (100°C, 5% relative humidity, 50 min) effectively inactivated Tulane virus (>5.2-log10 reduction), rotavirus (>6.6-log10 reduction), adenovirus (>4.0-log10 reduction), and transmissible gastroenteritis virus (>4.7-log10 reduction). The respirator integrity (determined based on the particle filtration efficiency and quantitative fit testing) was not compromised after 20 cycles of 50-min dry heat treatment. Based on these results, we propose dry heat decontamination generated by an electric cooker (e.g., rice cookers, instant pots, ovens) to be an effective and accessible decontamination method for the safe reuse of N95 respirators.
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in Environmental Science & Technology Letters