Don't worry! You have all the equipment you need in your home.
From toilet paper to hand sanitizers, we have observed a significant surge in demand since the coronavirus hit our hometown. Well, panic buying is normal human behavior at the time of crises. We have seen shopping aisles getting swept away within a matter of a few hours, resulting in the supply shortages, especially in the hygiene products including masks!
Even though manufacturers have ramped up the production of N95 masks since the COVID-19 became a pandemic, many of the health care professionals are still facing shortages of the respirators. Being on the frontline to combat the virus, nurses and healthcare professionals can't compromise on this only defense tool to prevent themselves from the viral microbes.
Though, these masks are designed for only one-time use. But according to this new research, you can easily decontaminate your N95 masks for reuse through the equipment available at home. While hospitals use fairly expensive sterilization equipment and disinfectant, the materials used in the research can be acquired within the comforts of your home. “Not all people who have need of an N95 mask necessarily have access to these industrial-scale disinfection processes,” says James Kirby, a professor of pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and one of the authors of the study.
Sterilize Your N95 Mask In The Microwave!
Steam has been widely used for disinfection purposes, but it usually involves using a commercial steam bag - currently facing a shortage in the market. Follow the following steps to decontaminate your N95 mask:
● Use a mesh attached to a glass container with a rubber band,
● Fill up the container with water,
● Place the virus-drenched N95 at the top of the mesh.
● Keep that glass container in a standard 1,110-watt microwave for three minutes, and the steam from the water will kill all the viruses.
“It was a good surrogate in that we could carefully quantify sort of the viral killing if you will, and that allowed us to basically find the sweet spot for sort of the minimal amount of microwave time to reliably disinfect or inactivate this particular virus,” Kirby says.
Researchers observed no change in the fit or function of the mask, even after repeating the process twenty times.
Of course, reusing a mask that is only designed for single-use is not what anyone would recommend. But it's better to have something than nothing, especially for those who rely on surgical masks or cloth masks to treat COVID patients.