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Dry Heat as a Decontamination Method for N95 Respirator Reuse

preprint
revised on 12.06.2020, 17:29 and posted on 18.06.2020, 22:58 by Chamteut Oh, Elbashir Araud, Joseph V. Puthussery, Hezi Bai, Gemma G. Clark, Vishal Verma, Thanh H. Nguyen

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.

Funding

This research was supported jointly by the EPA/NIFA grant on water reuse #2017-39591-27313. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of the EPA. Further, the EPA does not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication. We acknowledge Dr Leyi Wang (Veterinary Diagnostic Lab), Dr Carleigh Hebbard, Dr Lyndon Goodly, and Mr Jeremy Neighbors (Occupational Safety and Health) for their support and feedback on this project.

History

Email Address of Submitting Author

thn@illinois.edu

Institution

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Country

United States

ORCID For Submitting Author

0000-0002-1239-6482

Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest

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in Environmental Science & Technology Letters

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