St. Louis surgeons create new process for disinfecting and reusing N95 masks

Lavern Vogel

Amid shortages of personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, a St. Louis healthcare system has implemented a process to disinfect disposable N95 respirator masks that allows healthcare workers to reuse their own mask for up to 20 cycles.

The disinfection process, developed in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine, uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide and is described in an article in press in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Test results from the pilot program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and two other hospitals that are also part of BJC HealthCare, showed the disinfection process kills germs from N95 masks while ensuring that the only person who touches the mask is the original mask wearer.

Their program uses a disinfecting procedure first tested by Duke University researchers in 2016. But the Barnes-Jewish process has a unique modification: an identification system that enables the hospital to return

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