Novel Integrated Sterilization and Reuse of Personal Protective Equipment for COVID-19
The pandemic outbreak of COVID‑19 caused shortage of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) in Canada. There is an urgent need to supply PPE for healthcare workers and essential personnel. The problem is that the supply is insufficient compared to the demands, jeopardizing safety. One of the methods to tackle this problem is through sterilization (decontamination) of PPE in order to reuse them for emergency applications. N95 masks are typically made of melt blown polypropylene fibres and the traditional high temperature-based sterilization may not be appropriate for PPE.
In order to tackle this urgent challenge, the University of Calgary and TRIUM Environmental have cooperated to develop a novel sterilization system for PPE that can integrate micro/nano droplets of hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, ozone, and flash. The proposed solution can provide a rapid, effective sterilization method that is at room temperature and that causes minimal damage while maintaining static electricity of fibers in masks. The combined approaches provide synergistic effects to prolong the use of PPE while maintaining their functionalities. The new integrated sterilization system will be designed and developed. The optimal conditions for different treatment cycles will be examined. The efficacy tests including, but not limited to, different bacteria species will be tested. The functionalities of PPE will be also be examined after several cycles of sterilization processes.
The new development would provide an alternative way to respond to the ever-growing demands for PPE with cost effectiveness and time efficiency. The collaborative research will benefit Canada by providing health, economic, and environmental benefits as well as a way to facilitate training of HQP with a variety of professional and technical skills.