Electric Cooker easy way to Sanitize N95 Masks, says study

Electric multicooker may find another use to be added to its list of functions – sanitization of N95 respirator masks, suggests a new study.

The Urbana-Champaign study of the University of Illinois found that if N95 respirator masks are exposed to dry heat for 50 minutes in an electric cooker, such as an InstantPot or rice cooker, decontaminates N95 respirator mask inside and out keeping the filtration and fit intact. With this, wearers would be able to reuse the mask, initially intended for one-time use.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

Meanwhile, N95 is the gold standard for personal protection. It protects the wearer against airborne particles and droplets, such as the coronavirus for COVID-19.

Respirator Masks superior over Cloth Mask for function

“In terms of function, surgical mask or cloth mask and respirator mask are different. The former protects from droplets the wearer might discharge, on the other hand, a respirator mask protects by filtering out smaller particles that might contain the virus,” said the lead associate of the study.

Amidst COVID-19, high demand for N95 has created severe shortage for healthcare providers and other essential workers. This has prompted a search for creative approaches for sanitization.

There are a number of ways to sterilize protective equipment, but most of them will spoil the fit or filtration of N95 respirator masks.

Any sanitation method requires to decontaminate all surfaces of the respirator, but at the same time, it is important to maintain the fit and filtration efficacy of the mask for the face of the wearer. Otherwise, the mask will not provide the desired protection.

To find a solution to this, dry heat might help to meet all the three criteria – decontamination, fit, and filtration – hypothesized the researchers.