Portable Decontamination Oven Design and Prototyping to Facilitate Filtering Facepiece Respirator (FFR) Sterilization and Reuse in the Face of the 2019-20 COVID‑19 Pandemic
The COVID‑19 global pandemic has resulted in a worldwide shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Single-use N95 filtering face piece respirators (FFRs), considered one of the best types of PPE for health care
workers, are in short supply, forcing the medical community to consider multiple reuse of this once disposable
asset. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified contained ultraviolet germicidal
irradiation (UVGI) as an efficient, effective, and bi-product-free sterilization method for FFRs; in a relatively
short time frame, the UV-C wavelength disrupts genetic integrity, modifying the DNA and RNA of viruses
such as COVID-19. Some front-line health care workers have access to professional UV irradiation cabinets,
and some hospitals provide large-scale sterilization facilities. However, most essential workers who interact
with the public every day do not have access to equipment and processes used to sterilize and reuse FFRs. This
is especially true of remote communities and smaller facilities such as nursing homes and clinics. Traditional
large-scale systems are expensive, less able to meet scalable demands in times of crisis management, and less
sustainable during non-crisis periods. In response to this local and global need, and in collaboration with
Western Edison Manufacturing and the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Camosun College in Victoria BC,
is working to produce a Portable Decontamination Oven that can be placed in any community, on any hospital
ward or nursing home, to facilitate the decontamination and reuse of N95 masks.