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Couple develops system to decontaminate thousands of N95 masks

Shared by Ana Ribeiro on 2020-06-05 15:39

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Couple develops system to decontaminate thousands of N95 masks

Laurie and Kevin Hommema are a married couple from Columbus Ohio. Laurie is a family physician at the OhioHealth hospital network and Kevin is a principal researcher at Battelle Memorial Institute a nonprofit research organization.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Laurie was worried about how the hospital network would cope with the potential lack of protective equipment necessary to handle the pandemic. One day, after coming from a meeting to discuss the situation, she shared with her husband the worry that the she might not have a masks when the pick of the pandemic hit, because the supply of protective equipment was rapidly dwindling.

Confronted with this prospect, her husband Kevin asked “Why don't you just clean them up and reuse them?”. Usually, N95 masks are meant to be disposed of after a single but, some years before, Kevin had worked on an investigated that found that, in case of emergency, these masks could be decontaminated and safely reused.

So, the couple immediately started sketching out a rough idea for a decontamination system and contacting they’re institutions for approval to pursue the project. After 3 days, a team from OhioHealth and the Battelle Institute got together to make it happen.

The system they developed consisted of chamber constructed from a converted cargo-shipping container. The masks are placed inside the chamber and exposed to a concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor for two and a half hours. With the system working 24 hours a day, each chamber can decontaminate up to 80.000 masks per day.
And, according to the research conducted at Battelle, the masks can undergo 20 cycles of decontamination without degrading.

The system was initially tested with a batch of contaminated masks from OhioHealth and was then subjected to approval by the Food and Drug Administration, which rapidly authorized that the system be deployed in hospital around the country. The first units were set up to serve the 12 hospitals that are part of the OhioHealth network and, since then, have been set up in several other states in the United States.

Adapted from: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/dinner-table-chat-between-hus...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5WL_yU86u0

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About the author

Laurie and Kevin Hommema are a married couple from Columbus Ohio. Laurie is a family physician at the OhioHealth hospital network and Kevin is a principal researcher at Battelle Memorial Institute a nonprofit research organization. Together, they designed a system that is able to decontaminate 80000 masks a day, as a way to prevent the shortage of protective equipment necessary to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

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