UPDATE: Potential Processes to Eliminate Coronavirus from N95 Masks

March 26, 2020

Last updated: April 13, 2020

Hand Holding N95 Mask

Disclaimer: Viewers of this material should review the information contained within it with appropriate medical and legal counsel and make their own determinations as to relevance to their particular practice setting and compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. The APSF has used its best efforts to provide accurate information. However, this material is provided only for informational purposes and does not constitute medical or legal advice. This response also should not be construed as representing APSF endorsement or policy (unless otherwise stated), making clinical recommendations, or substituting for the judgment of a physician and consultation with independent legal counsel.

The APSF recognizes that there is great interest and need for re-using N95 masks during this period of mask shortages. A variety of cleaning and decontamination processes have been reported. The CDC provides guidance on the short-term and long-term re-use of N95 masks (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hcwcontrols/recommendedguidanceextuse.html).

It may be possible to reduce or eliminate coronavirus from N95 masks. Three documented approaches to decontaminating coronavirus from N95 masks include the use of hot air and/or room air drying, ultraviolet light, and hydrogen peroxide vapor-linked processing.

There is still controversy as to whether these processes completely eliminate viable SARS-CoV-2 while having no negative impact on the filtration/fit properties of N95 masks. To provide context, we have provided a link to the official statement on “Disinfection of Filtering Facepiece Respirators” from one of the major manufacturers of the common N95 masks, 3M and published on March 20, 2020.