Thursday, October 22, 2020

MSU receives emergency FDA authorization to decontaminate N95 masks for multiple uses

September 1, 2020
<p>Design by Genna Barner</p>

Design by Genna Barner

Photo by Genna Barner | The State News

Michigan State University has become the first public institution to receive FDA approval to decontaminate N95 masks on an emergency basis for health care workers.

According to a press release, the decontamination process includes a vaporized hydrogen peroxide treatment being applied to the masks and could potentially make N95 masks able to be reused three times before having to be disposed of.

University Veterinarian and Director of Campus Animal Resources F. Claire Hankenson was tasked with this program when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. requested an animal housing center be converted into a decontamination center for these N95 masks.

 “We estimate that within our dedicated facility, running the VHP cycles five days a week, we can effectively decontaminate and redistribute approximately 14,000 masks per day (7,000 masks per cycle and two cycles per day) and up to 70,000 masks per week,” Hankenson said. “Over the coming fall and early winter, with a potential second surge of COVID-19 cases in the state (which may converge with influenza season), the MSU VHP decontamination process could ultimately recycle more than one million PPE devices back into the supply for the state of Michigan.”

Saving up to 70,000 N95 masks per week could prevent a shortage of PPE as well as save crucial health care dollars that could be used elsewhere during the fight against COVID-19.

Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin — who represents the 8th District — believes this could be a huge step in trying to flatten the curve as a potential second wave of COVID-19 looms.

"Michigan, like so many other states, has been at the mercy of a medical supply chain with production, middlemen, and customs officials in other countries, and we just can’t let that happen again as we prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19,” Slotkin said. “Now that the FDA has approved this process, our community will be better prepared and protected if cases spike again. I’m grateful to the FDA for its approval and to the professionals at MSU for their hard work, dedication and ingenuity.”

The N95 masks are designed to protect the wearer of the mask by filtering out at least 95% of small and large particles. The CDC recommends the traditional cloth or surgical mask for everyday use and reserving N95 masks for health care workers.

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