N95 mask deco, reuse system available in Nevada

Abe Morrison, Nevada Site Lead with Battelle, showing how the contaminated masks are accounted for using tablets at the Nevada National Guard Armory in Henderson Nev., June 11, 2020. The decontamination program in Nevada has more than 200 enrolled participants and can process tens of thousands of masks each day. (Air National Guard photograph by Tech. Sgt. Garrett Wake )

HENDERSON – Critical care providers within the state of Nevada have the option to have their N95 masks decontaminated and returned for reuse.

The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System, or CCDS, is a self-contained decontamination system with the ability to process tens of thousands of masks a day, with a turnaround time of about three days.

“A lot of the healthcare providers and first responders may not know about this service,” said Katy Delaney, a spokesperson for Battelle. “It’s actually free for them to have their N95 masks cleaned, saving a lot of PPE for reuse. We’re supporting the entire state of Nevada, and have the capacity to take in many more masks.”

Nevada received this system through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on May 1. On May 7, the first batch in Nevada was processed and since has decontaminated over 1,000 masks within the state.

“Nationally we’ve decontaminated more than one million masks,” Delaney continued. “There are now 50 systems deployed across the country, with 10 more ready to be deployed by FEMA when needed.”

The Armory currently houses four Battelle CCDS systems, each capable of decontaminating tens of thousands of masks each day at the Nevada National Guard Armory in Henderson, Nev., June 11, 2020. Each system is enclosed in a shipping container hull which may be quickly mobilized and transported elsewhere if needed. (Air National Guard photograph by Tech. Sgt. Garrett Wake )

Battelle partnered with FedEx and Cardinal Health to handle the shipping services from the point of care to the decontamination facilities and back at no cost to the sender. There are currently 203 companies enrolled in the decontamination program in Nevada.

“This is a great service as it allows our staff to reuse their own masks, so we get masks back to their owners. It also helps us continue extended use safely and helps conserve our PPE supply,” said Cassandra Deen, Manager of Renown Health’s sterile processing department. Renown is a not-for-profit healthcare network with locations across northern Nevada.

Critical care providers can enroll in this service by visiting Battelle’s website and signing a contract. They will then be provided with a three-digit code to use when labeling the contaminated mask shipments. The masks are shipped back to the provider facility at no cost to the company once decontamination is completed.

The system is based off research Battelle conducted for the FDA in 2015 to assess the feasibility of a decontamination and reuse process for N95 respirators in the event of PPE shortages resulting from a pandemic. Within the unit vaporized hydrogen peroxide is used to decontaminate biological contaminants including SARS-CoV-2.

Battelle employees wearing powered air-purifying respirators and other personal protective equipment while performing a decontamination cycle on a batch of N95 masks at the Nevada National Guard Armory in Henderson, Nev., June 11, 2020. (Air National Guard photograph by Tech. Sgt. Garrett Wake)

In early 2020 the SARS-CoV-2 virus quickly spread worldwide and Battelle realized that the study they had conducted only a few years prior was becoming immediately relevant.

“That study was kind of just sitting on the shelf,” Delaney said. “We saw the pandemic spreading and shortages of PPE and went ahead and built a system. We tested it with two local hospitals in Columbus and proved that it works.”

Battelle was granted an Emergency Use Authorization for the CCDS on March 28 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and began processing masks at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio. The next day the FDA expanded the authorization to allow Battelle to use their CCDS across the U.S.

On June 6 the FDA again expanded the authorization for Battelle to distribute decontaminated, compatible N95 respirators to a different healthcare facility, in addition to the previously authorized distribution to the healthcare facility from which the compatible N95 respirators were collected.

For more information on the CCDS or to enroll in the mask decontamination program visit Battelle’s website at www.battelle.org.


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