…if you have an electric cooker in your kitchen.
By electric cooker, we mean even an Instant Pot or a rice cooker able to sustain a dry heating cycle of at least 50 minutes at 212 F (100ºC). The best news is that you can perform this kind of decontamination for at least 20 times.
This was the result of a study performed by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, that found the N95 respirators were decontaminated inside and out while maintaining their filtration and fit. This could enable wearers to safely reuse limited supplies of the respirators, originally intended to be one-time-use items.
N95 respirator masks are the gold standard of personal protective equipment since they work not only against large droplets but they also filter out smaller airborne particles that might carry the new coronavirus causing COVID-19.
“There are many different ways to sterilize something, but most of them will destroy the filtration or the fit of an N95 respirator. Any sanitation method would need to decontaminate all surfaces of the respirator, but equally important is maintaining the filtration efficacy and the fit of the respirator to the face of the wearer. Otherwise, it will not offer the right protection.” — Vishal Verma, one of the study authors.
See the video above for how to perform the decontamination, as demonstrated by the authors of the study, Thanh “Helen” Nguyen and Vishal Verma.
“We built a chamber in my aerosol-testing lab specifically to look at the filtration of the N95 respirators, and measured particles going through it. The respirators maintained their filtration capacity of more than 95% and kept their fit, still properly seated on the wearer’s face, even after 20 cycles of decontamination in the electric cooker.” — Vishal Verma
These findings are especially important for health care professionals in smaller clinics or hospitals that do not have access to large-scale heat sanitization equipment, but also for all those who may have an N95 respirator at home and need to reuse it.