LOUISVILLE, Ky – The shortage of N95 masks has been well documented at hospitals around the country. Researchers at the University of Louisville have begun training volunteers to help with a new method of decontamination so masks can be reused.
Dozens of other universities around the country have also begun this work, which involves moving vaporized hydrogen peroxide through a sealed room where masks hang from shelves.
UofL program manager Dr. Leslie Sherwood gave us a tour and says each mask can be cleaned and reused up to 20 times before being discarded. She’s received requests from more than 20 organizations in the region and is sure the masks will be safe.
“We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think it was safe, Sherwood said.” “…[I’m] extremely confident. It’s been validated by Battelle as well as Duke University.”
Battelle Memorial is a nonprofit research institute that developed a trademarked “Critical Care Decontamination System,” utilizing vapor-state hydrogen peroxide.
The University of Louisville’s decontamination program is free and open to first responders, hospitals, nursing homes, and others. Once fully operational, they’ll have a capacity to clean 7,000 masks per day, with a 48-hour turnaround to make sure all bacteria are gone.