The current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in worldwide shortages of face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). Many countries’ production capacity is limited, and the pandemic’s future path will almost certainly include shortages of high-quality N95 masks and PPE for the foreseeable future. As a result, it is expected that mask reuse, extended wear, and similar approaches will increase the availability of personal protective measures. Let’s closely look at different types of masks and sanitize N95 mask at home quickly.
With the global Covid-19 pandemic dominating the news, many healthcare professionals and concerned citizens are grappling with a scarcity of respirator masks, which are critical tools for preventing healthcare workers from becoming infected by the people they’re attempting to help.
In general, three types of masks for infection control:
- Elastomeric respirators
- Surgical masks.
- N95 respirator masks
Only some Elastomeric Respirators are for autoclave steam sterilization; neither Surgical Masks nor N95 Masks are for steam sterilization.
Varieties of face masks
Here are some types of face masks to use for protection from COVID-19.
Surgical masks are single-use cloth masks that protect against large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluids. When the user inhales, these masks leak around the edges and do not provide reliable respiratory protection against smaller airborne particles.
The primary medical function of these disposable N95 masks is for infected individuals who want to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to others in their vicinity. They are not a substitute for a respirator mask, and their primary function is not to protect the mask’s wearer.
Elastomeric respirator masks are full or partial face-covering masks with removable, reusable filter elements. Although some removable filters are sterilized in an autoclave, most studies recommend that other decontamination methods are faster, cause less damage to the mask elements, and are effective in removing influenza-like agents such as Coronavirus.
Cleaning followed by disinfection is the standard reprocessing procedure recommended by OSHA and the manufacturers of these elastomeric respirator mask elements. Filter cartridges removed from masks, and the filter cover, straps, and other surfaces should be reprocessed.
OSHA’s cleaning guidelines recommend using a mild detergent at a maximum temperature of 110°F, followed by rinsing and draining with cold water.
N95 respirator masks
N95 respirator masks are tight-fitting, sealed masks that force all air through a filter designed to block 95% or more of 0.3-micron test particles. N95 masks sold in the United States must be certified by NIOSH and bear the appropriate markings. They must be properly fitted and tested for leaks before being considered safe, and they have traditionally been considered single-use.
However, due to airborne disease outbreaks such as SARS, MERS, H1N1, and other viruses, regional shortages of these masks occurred, prompting many researchers to investigate possible disinfection procedures that would allow the masks to reuse.
Different mask sterilization processes
Here are well-known ways to sanitize N95 mask at home efficiently.
Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor (HPV)
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) vapor has an industrial decontaminant. And recent studies conducted by the Dutch national institute of health have shown that this method is effective at inactivating similar viruses while not causing damage to N95 masks. The FDA recently approved Battelle’s H2O2 vapor generator and system in decontaminating N95 masks.
Duke University has validated similar approaches and technology. A Bioquelltm Clarustm C system with a 35% concentration hydrogen peroxide solution and distribution system achieve a uniform concentration of 480ppm+ throughout the decontamination room.
Moisture & heat
A growing body of evidence supports heat, relative humidity, and time potentially inactivating SARS-CoV-2. Autoclaving N95 best respirator masks at typical sterilization temperatures of 121C yielded inconclusive results.
One study discovered that a specific face mask could process up to 5 times without losing filtration efficiency or fit. Because the tests used commonly accepted steam sterilization parameters, no viral inactivation studies were carried out.
However, when parameters were tested on different masks, the results revealed unacceptable physical deformation preventing proper fit and filter efficiency degradation below acceptable limits.
Microwave Generated Steam (MGS)
At room temperature plastic, reservoirs with perforated tops fill with about 50 mL of tap water. The contaminated N95 mask is atop the center of the assembly, loaded into a commercially available microwave oven, and exposed to radiation for two minutes (one minute on each side of the mask). This method results in a log reduction of 5.06 viable viruses on average.
It is noted that many N95 mask designs include metallic nosebands that, when exposed to microwave radiation, will melt the surrounding area of the mask, rendering it unusable (12).
However, average aerosol penetration and airflow resistance did not change significantly for face masks disinfected with this method that did not contain metallic components.
For 15 minutes on each side of the mask, a UV-C lamp (80W, 254 nm) exposes the contaminated FFRs to UV radiation (1 J/cm2 total dosage) (outer and inner). This method resulted in a log reduction of 4.81 viable viruses.
UV light dosage and wavelength are critical for inactivation, and when designing a procedure, users must keep in mind that UV light is based on line-of-sight, so face masks in shadow will not be disinfected. Furthermore, it is critical to ensure that UV-C dosage is measured on the face mask because the dosage can be reduced as the distance from the source increases (s). One possible issue with implementing UVGI disinfection is penetration.
Conclusion: It is always preferable to use a new N95 mask at home whenever one is required, but this may not always be possible. As the fight against Covid-19 progresses, disinfection and reuse procedures may be required to combat acute shortages of all types of respirators.
Q1.Can masks prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce transmission and save lives.
Q2.Is it necessary to avoid wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic?
When talking, breathing, or coughing, face coverings reduce the volume and travel distance of expiratory droplets.
Q3.Is it possible to obtain COVID-19 twice?
Reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 indicates that a person was infected, recovered, and then re-infected.