Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences | 2021
Decontamination of respirators amid shortages due to SARS-CoV-2
The pandemic created by SARS-CoV-2 has caused a shortage in the supplies of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), disposable respirators with at least 95% efficiency to remove non-oily airborne particles, due to increasing cases all over the world. The current article reviewed various possible decontamination methods for FFR reuse including ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), hydrogen peroxide vapor (HPV), microwave-generated steam (MGS), hydrogen peroxide gas plasma (HPGP), and 70% or higher ethanol solution. HPV decontamination was effective against bacterial spores (6 log10 reduction of Geobacillus stearothermophilus spores) on FFRs and viruses (>\u20094 log10 reduction of various types of viruses) on inanimate surfaces, and no degradation of respirator materials and fit has been reported. 70% or higher ethanol decontamination showed high efficacy in inactivation of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces (>\u20093.9 log10 reduction) but it was lower on FFRs which filtration efficiency was also decreased. UVGI method had good biocidal efficacy on FFRs (>\u20093 log10 reduction of H1N1 virus) combined with inexpensive, readily available equipment; however, it was more time-consuming to ensure sufficient reduction in SARS-CoV-2. MGS treatment also provided good viral decontamination on FFRs (>\u20094 log10 reduction of H1N1 virus) along with less time-intensive process and readily available equipment while inconsistent disinfection on the treated surfaces and deterioration of nose cushion of FFRs were observed. HPGP was a good virucidal system (>\u20096 log10 reduction of Vesicular stomatitis virus) but filtration efficiency after decontamination was inconsistent. Overall, HPV appeared to be one of the most promising methods based on the high biocidal efficacy on FFRs, preservation of respirator performance after multiple cycles, and no residual chemical toxicity. Nonetheless, equipment cost and time of the HPV process and a suitable operating room need to be considered.