COVID-19 Decontamination and Reuse of Filtering Facepiece Respirators

What’s FFR decontamination?

Decontamination is a course of to scale back the variety of pathogens on used FFRs earlier than reusing them. It’s used to restrict the danger of self-contamination. Decontamination and subsequent reuse of FFRs ought to solely be practiced the place FFR shortages exist. Decontamination ought to solely be carried out on NIOSH-approved FFRs with out exhalation valves.

At current, FFRs are thought-about one-time use merchandise, and there are at the moment no manufacturer-authorized strategies for FFR decontamination earlier than reuse. Solely respirator producers can reliably present steering on the way to decontaminate their particular fashions of FFRs. Within the absence of producer’s suggestions, third events, similar to decontamination firms, security organizations, or analysis laboratories, can also present steering or procedures on the way to decontaminate respirators with out impacting their efficiency.

An efficient FFR decontamination methodology ought to cut back the pathogen burden, not hurt the match or filtration efficiency of the FFR, and will current no residual chemical hazard. NIOSH reviewed the literature on decontaminating FFRs due to these issues. NIOSH discovered that, as of April 2020, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, vaporous hydrogen peroxide, and moist warmth have proven essentially the most promise as potential strategies to decontaminate FFRs.

On March 29, 2020, the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the primary Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a course of to decontaminate, and subsequent EUAs have been issued. Healthcare services ought to verify the FDA Emergency Use Authorizations web siteexterior icon for essentially the most up-to-date info.

The effectiveness of utilizing any of the strategies talked about on this steering needs to be explored with particular FFR fashions and with the producer and, if wanted, third occasion skilled enter and assist to higher perceive the impression on respirator efficiency, together with filtration and match, and structural integrity, together with integrity of head straps and different components.

Employers ought to be capable to show effectiveness of any decontamination strategies used towards the probably contaminants (i.e., pathogens) of concern together with SARS-CoV-2. Employers must also be sure that any decontamination strategies used, together with these for which an FDA EUA has been issued, don’t produce further security hazards (e.g., electrical arcs ensuing from putting FFRs with metallic components into microwaves), or that employees are adequately protected against these hazards by way of acceptable engineering and administrative controls, secure work practices, and private protecting gear.

Decontamination may trigger poorer match, lowered filtration effectivity, and lowered breathability of disposable FFRs on account of modifications to the filtering materials, straps, nostril bridge materials, or strap attachments of the FFR. Decontamination could produce chemical inhalation dangers and needs to be evaluated for off-gassing.

Whereas decontamination and subsequent reuse of FFRs void the NIOSH approval and will not be permitted below OSHA’s respiratory safety commonplace throughout regular circumstances of use, these choices could must be thought-about throughout a disaster capability state of affairs when FFR shortages exist.

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