A study was conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health into the most effective ways to sterilise previously used facepieces. The results concluded that the bleach decontamination and the microwave oven irradiation methods were the least effective in the disinfecting of previously worn facemasks. UVGI, EtO, and VHP were found to be the most promising decontamination methods; however further research into these approaches.
Reuse of facemasks is not a preferred approach during the COVID crisis but maybe required if the alternative is no facemask. Ethylene oxide sterilisation is the most commonly used method for terminal sterilisation in the world. It is also highly effective against viruses as it acts to break up DNA and RNA through a process called alkylation. A study undertaken in the USA a few years ago in anticipation of a pandemic looked at how face masks performance survived the process of ethylene oxide sterilisation. The result was encouraging with no apparent degradation of the face mask performance post processing.
Andersen Caledonia is the largest supplier of ethylene oxide sterilisation to the NHS and is ready to work with any healthcare institution looking to re sterilise their masks in a safe and effective manner.
Find out more about Andersen Caledonia’s ethylene oxide sterilisation services here: https://andersencaledonia.com/services/eto-sterilisation
Reference: Viscusi DJ, Bergman MS, Eimer BC, Shaffer RE. Evaluation of five decontamination methods for filtering facepiece respirators. Ann Occup Hyg. 2009;53(8):815–827. doi:10.1093/annhyg/mep070