Focus: Infection Control

Many hospitals now sanitize and reuse masks

May 14, 2020

Hospitals are now sanitizing and reusing face coverings they once tossed in the trash after a single use, according to an article on the WBUR website. But some are asking how many times can a mask be cleaned and reused — and still be safe?

Hospitals and first responders across the country increasingly turn to decontaminating masks at mass scale, from Boston's most prestigious hospitals to the Los Angeles County sheriff's office. 

One agency of the federal government is allowing for 20 cycles of cleaning for a single mask. Another suggests three. Many hospitals say they are allowing five to 10.

“One of the concerns we have is that these masks aren’t designed to be reprocessed,” Richard Peltier, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said in the article. He is working alone in his lab on the deserted campus to find out whether the N95s are degrading each time they are sterilized and reused.

Read the article.




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