The Guy Who Helped Invent the N95 Mask Thinks He’s Found a Way to Clean and Reuse Them
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“We are going to use heat, [158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius)], for 30 minutes, to see if we can kill COVID-19,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. “We should get the results in one or two days.”
Tsai, a recently retired professor at the University of Tennessee, is one of several researchers at companies or institutions looking at heat as a potential low-tech solution for the shortage of masks plaguing hospitals around the country. Desperate to stretch their personal protective equipment for much longer than its intended single use, nurses and doctors told VICE News they’re using alcohol or even Clorox wipes to try to decontaminate their masks — a desperate move that could do more harm than good.
“Obviously no one wants to spray down their N95s every day and reuse PPE [personal protective equipment], but until we receive government support and safety of healthcare workers becomes a priority, we have no choice,” said a resident at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. “The hospitals simply don’t have the supplies.”
It’s well established that high heat kills viruses. For instance, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, can be killed if exposed to a temperature of 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) for more than 15 minutes, according to 2014 research conducted by Pasteur Institute, a prominent nonprofit research foundation based in Paris.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
April 3, 2020 at 11:51 AM #297163Bernie BoomerParticipant
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I was reading something yesterday – I’m sorry I can’t recall where – that suggested using an electric pressure cooker to sterilize the masks. 15 minutes on high. I have no idea what that translates to in terms of temperature, but the article suggested that some hospitals were thinking of using it. As long as the mask was above the water, it seems like it might work if the temperature is hot enough.
April 3, 2020 at 6:02 PM #297244incognitoParticipant
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Maybe a dryer set on a steam setting… if you have that.
Or just a pot of water with a steamer basket/rack? Everyone could do that.
Or your oven set at 158°. My lowest oven setting is 170°. That’s pretty low (I use it to keep foods warm) and can’t imagine it burning the mask.
I posted a video the other day of a guy sterilizing his disposable paper, polypropylene lined, masks with boiling water. Soak 10 minutes and lightly scrub with soap and toothbrush a, rinse in clean waternd hang to dry, A study showed it did zero damage to the polypropylene fibers. He had done it 5 times to masks and they were holding up well.
I hope they find their experiment works!
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