In response to the demand for N95 respirators by health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, we evaluated decontamination of N95 respirators using an aerosolized hydrogen peroxide (aHP) system. This system is designed to dispense a consistent atomized spray of aerosolized, 7% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) solution over a treatment cycle. Multiple N95 respirator models were subjected to 10 or more cycles of respirator decontamination, with a select number periodically assessed for qualitative and quantitative fit testing. In parallel, we assessed the ability of aHP treatment to inactivate multiple viruses absorbed onto respirators, including phi6 bacteriophage, herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3), and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). For pathogens transmitted via respiratory droplets and aerosols, it is critical to address respirator safety for reuse. This study provided experimental validation of an aHP treatment process that decontaminates the respirators while maintaining N95 function. External National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) certification verified respirator structural integrity and filtration efficiency after 10 rounds of aHP treatment. Virus inactivation by aHP was comparable to the decontamination of commercial spore-based biological indicators. These data demonstrate that the aHP process is effective, with successful fit-testing of respirators after multiple aHP cycles, effective decontamination of multiple virus species, including SARS-CoV-2, successful decontamination of bacterial spores, and filtration efficiency maintained at or greater than 95%. While this study did not include extended or clinical use of N95 respirators between aHP cycles, these data provide proof of concept for aHP decontamination of N95 respirators before reuse in a crisis-capacity scenario.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology