Study: N95 respirators can be safely decontaminated up to 25 times

The seven masks tested by researchers maintained their function and effectiveness after repeated decontamination with vaporized hydrogen peroxide


By Leila Merrill

BOSTON — N95 respirators can be safely decontaminated up to 25 times, according to a study published on Jan. 5 in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The study stemmed from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, where physician-scientists observed medical staff resuing N95 respirators after decontaminating them using vaporized hydrogen peroxide, according to a news release

Because of supply limits, staffers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston reused N95 respirators.
Because of supply limits, staffers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston reused N95 respirators.

For the study, researchers at BIDMC evaluated the practice between June and August 2020, and found that an N95 respirator reprocessed with VHP maintained its function and effectiveness through 25 cyles. 

The study authors offered advice on large-scale reprocessing.

“In order for reprocessing to be a realistic option for healthcare facilities, certain steps need to be taken,” said senior author Preeti Mehrotra, MD, MPH, senior medical director of Infection Control at BIDMC. “Reprocessing can be made possible by creating relationships among infection prevention, occupational health, environmental services, and other relevant departments within hospitals to facilitate implementation of appropriate technologies and advocating for the inclusion of personal protective equipment reprocessing in epidemic and pandemic planning.”

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