Lake County Fire Rescue will begin the process of sterilizing N95 masks for reuse among first responders in Lake County. In partnership with the Florida Department of Health, the Lake County Office of EMS and Medical Director, and the Lake County Office of Public Safety Support, the procured Hydrogen Peroxide Decontamination Unit can sterilize up to 300 masks at once during the three-hour process, according to a news release.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that N95 masks sterilized with hydrogen peroxide blocked infectious particles just as effectively as new masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved N95 sterilization and reuse, which will assist in filling the gap while product manufacturers work to meet the growing demand during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The mask integrity will be routinely evaluated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A sample run was completed over the weekend and tested by AdventHealth. The test was negative for any bacteria or the virus, proving that the process is successfully sterilizing the masks.
“The science behind it is highly effective,” says Meaghan Hislop, a biologist with CURIS Decontamination Systems. “What our device is going to do is disperse the hydrogen peroxide into the air and then hold the saturation in the air for a certain time period.”
The sterilization process is being conducted by Lake County Fire Rescue’s Special Operations Response Team. Hazardous Materials team members will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during the process to protect both themselves and the integrity of the sterilized masks.
“This will put our first responders at ease knowing that there is a system in place that will ensure an unlimited supply of PPE,” Lake County Fire Rescue Chief Jim Dickerson says in the release.
The career firefighters of Lake County Fire Rescue protect county residents and visitors in an area covering approximately 1,200 square miles, with nearly 70,000 residences and up to 2,000 commercial properties. For up-to-date news on Lake County Fire Rescue, visit facebook.com/lakecountyfirerescue or twitter.com/lakefirepio.