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Dry heat and microwave-generated steam protocols for the rapid decontamination of respiratory personal protective equipment in response to COVID-19-related shortages

Authors
  • Pascoe, M.J.1
  • Robertson, A.1
  • Crayford, A.2
  • Durand, E.2
  • Steer, J.2
  • Castelli, A.1, 2
  • Wesgate, R.1
  • Evans, S.L.2
  • Porch, A.2
  • Maillard, J-Y.1
  • 1 Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK
  • 2 Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of Hospital Infection
Publisher
The Healthcare Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Publication Date
Jul 09, 2020
Volume
106
Issue
1
Pages
10–19
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhin.2020.07.008
PMID: 32652212
PMCID: PMC7343662
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Background In the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and unprecedented global demand, clinicians are struggling to source adequate access to personal protective equipment. Respirators can be in short supply, though are necessary to protect workers from SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Rapid decontamination and reuse of respirators may provide relief for the strained procurement situation. Method In this study, we investigated the suitability of 70°C dry heat and microwave-generated steam (MGS) for reprocessing of FFP2/N95-type respirators, and Type-II surgical face masks. Staphylococcus aureus was used as a surrogate as it is less susceptible than enveloped viruses to chemical and physical processes. Results We observed >4 log10 reductions in the viability of dry S. aureus treated by dry heat for 90 min at 70°C and >6 log10 reductions by MGS for 90 s. After 3 reprocessing cycles, neither process was found to negatively impact the bacterial or NaCl filtration efficiency of the respirators that were tested. However, MGS was incompatible with Type-II surgical masks tested, as we confirmed that bacterial filtration capacity was completely lost following reprocessing. MGS was observed to be incompatible with some respirator types due to arcing observed around some types of metal nose clips and by loss of adhesion of clips to the mask. Conclusion Considering the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, we propose a reprocessing personal protective equipment/face mask workflow for use in medical areas.

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