Health officials looking for ways to sterilize N95 masks

Coronavirus

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — One key piece of PPE needed with treating COVID-19 patients are single-use N95 respirator masks, but those now are in short supply. 

Now, some hospitals and medical centers, including Albany Medical Center, are looking to decrease demand by sterilizing the masks with ultra-violet light and re-using them. 

But the mask’s manufacturers, 3M, says that they have not found a single method, including the ultraviolet light, that truly sterilizes the mask. They say the sterilization method not only has to target the coronavirus, but cannot affect the respirator’s filtration, the mask’s fit or the safety of the person wearing it, adding that no method they’ve seen so far hits all four criteria.

“It’s acceptable to take more extreme measures if they work. We don’t have proof that this works. We don’t have proof that this works, and that gives a false sense of security, when what we really need is they need to provide a clean N95 for each user,” said Lisa Baum, Occupational Health and Safety Expert, NYS Nurses Association.

Albany Medical Center says they are hoping to implement the ultraviolet sterilization process sometime this week.

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