COVID-19 Considerations for Basic and Translational Research

Plasma cleaning of N95 masks

  • 1.  Plasma cleaning of N95 masks

    Posted 03-31-2020 17:07

    I am posting to this board in case I can be of assistance. Some of you may know my father who brought this discussion board to my attention. My background is in plasma physics and manufacturing.

    You may be aware of the article:

    https://www.safety.duke.edu/sites/www.safety.duke.edu/files/N95%20Decontamination%20Procedure.pdf

    "Decontamination and Reuse of N95 Respirators with Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor to Address Worldwide Personal Protective Equipment Shortages During the  SARS‐CoV‐2 (COVID‐19) Pandemic ". My concern with the protocol outlined is that the cleaning procedure takes about 5 hours and requires a dedicated room and equipment that may not be widely available today. The throughput may not be sufficient to meet the demands of high volume processing of masks for reuse. 

    Based on literature searches, it seems that an plasma treatment may be capable of decontaminating N95 masks. See the attached links.

    Cold plasma can kill 99.9% of airborne viruses

    and

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ppap.201900269

    From the literature it is my expectation that plasma treatment will also kill SARS-CoV-2 virus such that N95 masks could be reused however, treatment may reduce the level of aerosol protection of the mask and/or integrity of the mask. This claim would need to be tested.  

    HZO, Inc. is a Morrisville, NC based company. We design and manufacture plasma equipment and processes for a number of applications. We have a number of plasma tools capable of plasma treatment of N95 masks. Even though plasma processing may degrade masks, there may still be a place for it in the effort to combat COVID19. Plasma tools like we have are located throughout the country and world and are capable of processing a high volume of masks per hour, which may be critical for personal protection.  Please let me know if we can help to develop and test a protocol for decontaminating masks. 

    I personally volunteer to help and please let me know if there is anything HZO can do.

     All the best,

    John



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    John A. Janik, Ph.D.
    Senior Engineer
    HZO, Inc.
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