Very little is known about how to properly reuse medical masks to fight infectious diseases. No method is confirmed to work. However, in a report to doctors, which has not yet been peer reviewed, some researchers are beginning to point out the best options for decontaminating the masks used.
Health professionals are currently reusing single-use medical masks across the country, according to the press organization Interception and many other reportsbecause the COVID-19 pandemic is straining the usual supply chains for masks. Medical masks, including N95 masks, are intended for single use and must be worn correctly to be effective. According to a new article published by researchers At COVID-19 Evidence Service at Stanford University School of Medicine today (March 24), however, there are certain methods that doctors can use that seem better than others. (Their communications were aimed specifically at anesthesiologists.)
“We do not recommend or recommend specific treatments or approaches,” began the researchers. “The COVID-19 Evidence service aims to share the best available evidence to answer questions from clinical anesthesiologists and the anesthesiology community. We recommend that hospital policy and procedures be followed and followed.”
Referring to an article published in the journal Annals of occupational hygiene in 2009, among others, researchers compared and contrasted these different methods of sterilizing N95 masks, many of which were ineffective:
- Heat in the oven for 30 minutes at 58 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius)
- Use ultraviolet light for 30 minutes
- Soak the mask in 75% ethyl alcohol, then allow it to dry
- Clean the mask with liquid or vapor hydrogen peroxide
- Clean the mask with bleach
- Steam the mask with hot water
- Microwave mask
- Use extreme heat in an oven or autoclave
- Soak in soap and water
“To be useful, a decontamination method must eliminate the viral threat, be harmless to end users, and maintain the integrity of the respirator,” they wrote.
All methods used have been found to be effective in destroying coronavirus, they wrote, but not all of them were good ideas.
“DO NOT use alcohol and chlorine [bleach]disinfection methods based on, “they wrote.” These will eliminate the static charge in the microfibers of N95 face masks, reducing the efficiency of filtration. In addition, chlorine also retains gas after decontamination, and these fumes can be harmful. “
Microwaves tended to melt masks and make them useless.
Hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet radiation appeared to be at least a little more effective, they wrote, “but it is unclear whether they would retain filtration, the strength of the material and the integrity of the air flow in repeated use case “.
Autoclaves, 320 F [160 C] the ovens, and the soaking of the soap and water, all seemed ineffective, they wrote.
However, they wrote: “Heating to 70 C / 158 F in a kitchen-type oven for 30 minutes, or steaming hot water from boiling water for 10 minutes, are additional effective decontamination methods.”
The CDC still does not recommend reusing the masks, and researchers have encouraged doctors to follow directions in their clinics. If you are not a healthcare professional, the best way to avoid getting sick is not to use a mask (new or reused), but to stay at home. If you have to go out, homemade cloth masks are an imperfect but better option than nothing, as reported by Live Science. However, a mask is much more likely to help you avoid spreading the disease if you are sick than to protect yourself from the disease, as Live Science also reported.
Again, if you can, stay home.
Coronavirus Science and News
Originally posted on Live Science.