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Int J Infect Dis ; 104: 320-328, 2021 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065182


OBJECTIVES: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic increased global demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and resulted in shortages. The study evaluated the re-use of surgical masks and respirators by analysing their performance and safety before and after reprocessing using the following methods: oven, thermal drying, autoclave, and hydrogen peroxide plasma vapour. METHODS: In total, 45 surgical masks and 69 respirators were decontaminated. Visual integrity, air permeability, burst resistance, pressure differential and particulate filtration efficiency of new and decontaminated surgical masks and respirators were evaluated. In addition, 14 used respirators were analysed after work shifts before and after decontamination using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and viral culturing. Finally, reprocessed respirators were evaluated by users in terms of functionality and comfort. RESULTS: Oven decontamination (75 °C for 45 min) was found to be the simplest decontamination method. Physical and filtration assays indicated that all reprocessing methods were safe after one cycle. Oven decontamination maintained the characteristics of surgical masks and respirators for at least five reprocessing cycles. Viral RNA was detected by RT-PCR in two of the 14 used respirators. Four respirators submitted to viral culture were PCR-negative and culture-negative. Reprocessed respirators used in work shifts were evaluated positively by users, even after three decontamination cycles. CONCLUSION: Oven decontamination is a safe method for reprocessing surgical masks and respirators for at least five cycles, and is feasible in the hospital setting.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Decontamination/methods , Masks/virology , Pandemics , Personal Protective Equipment/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Ventilators, Mechanical/virology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Equipment Reuse , Hospitals , Hot Temperature , Humans , Hydrogen Peroxide/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics