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Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 7:30 AM

Since "95" masks protect the public and the wearer, they would be the best to use. However, they are hard to come by and are expensive. If one could get about six of these and keep them in the sun and always use the most exposed one, wouldn't that be a much better protection? The non "95" mask I use is left on the dashboard when I get home leaving it exposed to the sun. I only leave the house about twice a week. Do you think leaving the "95" mask in the sun for six days would kill the virus and make it reusable?

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#1

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 8:08 AM

The heat should do it, but it would be better in the direct sunlight because of the uv rays....however it's much better to get a uv light to use to keep your masks sterile...I put mine in a cabinet with a small 8 watt uv bulb, that way it's kept in a cleaner environment...

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#2

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 8:40 AM

N95 masks are not for use by the general public. There are multiple reasons for this. First and foremost reason is one must be trained on how to use the mask for them to be effective. Second, when properly used an N95 mask protects the wearer from being infected and not the wearer from infecting others. This attribute is why many N95 masks have those black disc, exhaust valves that make them cooler to wear. A surgical mask or a simple cloth mask prevents the wearer from infecting others. Exactly the scenario of the asymptomatic carriers this disease creates. Ironically, many home made cloth masks are superior to commercial products for many wearers have them custom fitted. Lastly and most relevant to your question, N95 masks are originally designed to be disposed after use. Because of this they are not as durable and are difficult to sterilize without damage.

Get a cloth mask and wash it daily.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 10:23 AM

I found a couple of N99 masks among my shop supplies. Higher particulate filtration rating than the N95. No exhaust valve. Sturdy construction. Use one about once a week to grocery store, building supply... Still healthy, but low risk area here (Central Ontario).

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 11:00 AM

An N95 and an N99 mask filter out 95% and 99% of the airborne particulates respectively. It doesn't take many particulates (dust, pollen, shop dust, etc.) captured in the surfaces of these masks for them to block needed air flow. This is the pivotal reason these masks should be frequently disposed. Sterilizing the outer surface with ionizing light will not dislodge trapped particles. Washing a cloth covering will dislodge particles. Washing a cloth covering with soap and water sterilizes and dislodges trapped particles.

Save your N99 masks for the work you do in your shop. A cloth covering will be insufficient for this task.

Horses for courses.

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 10:40 AM

What can one wear that will prevent the catching of the disease?

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#8
In reply to #4

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 3:02 PM

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#12
In reply to #4

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 10:22 PM

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 11:31 PM

Wait, you'll need a decontamination booth to disinfect the suit before you can remove it.....

Hydrogen peroxide mist ...

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 11:33 PM

And more patience than I have!

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 10:48 AM

It's too bad there aren't inexpensive masks that protect against virus particles coming in as well as possibly virus-laden droplets going out. Human nature being what it is, self-preservation is a much greater incentive for wearing a mask than altruism. Just sayin'.

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 11:09 AM

Aye, therein lies the rub.

For any mask to protect the wearer from viral particles drawn onto the outer surfaces of the mask the wearer must be extra cautious how they remove the mask every time the mask is removed. This is why training is required for using the Nxx masks in a medical setting.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 3:14 PM

Well, what are people with compromised systems to do? What do the octogenarians, diabetic, and chemo treatment people do? How do they safely go somewhere? Isn't there a gas mask they can use? Or, should they just stay in the house until there is a cure or they die of old age?

Even if the gas mask looks hideous and cost a lot of money, it would be worth it to go out safely.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 4:21 PM

You can go out any time you want, just stay away from other people...no, further away....further....ok that's good

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 4:57 PM

First, accept the truth that nothing is perfectly safe, even doing nothing.

Second, find someone who can train you the anal retentive techniques of removing contaminated PPE. I had the pleasure of learning this bizarre dance because my job required my skills to enter and repair a machine designed to make a wide spectrum of hot isotopes. Only once in those several dozen entries did frisking reveal I had contaminated myself. I lost a shirt that day. I liked that shirt, too.

My point here is to get a mask you can decontaminate and sanitize. Be conscious that the outer surfaces of the used mask are contaminated until you can wash it with soap and water. By being conscious I mean anything that touches the outside of the mask (hands) must be cleaned and sanitized before coming anywhere near the entry points of your body; eyes, nose, mouth and any open wounds. A mantra I got from that training is contaminated is not the same thing as poisoned. Contamination can be cleaned. Not cleaning a contamination can lead to a poisoning. Be conscious of what is contaminated.

Buying the best equipment and not using it properly is far worse than having the good enough equipment and using it properly.

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#18
In reply to #9

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/06/2020 10:17 AM

After my lung transplant, I was issued Halyard 47700 masks and trained in their proper use. Unfortunately, due to supply shortages they are currently unavailable.

I agree with Redfred. Unless you are at high risk, a cloth mask will serve you better.

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#16
In reply to #2

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 11:44 PM

When the Covid-19 mask use was first recommended, I went out to the garage and found my dust masks, purchased at one or more local hardware stores in years past. I had never heard of N95 masks before this... I was surprised to find that all three of my dust masks were N95s. These were clearly available to the general public. I bought these instead of some cheaper units because I hate having the heat trapped inside my mask.

One of them had been used while sanding, or something like that, so I washed it. I could see no ill affect from washing.

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#21
In reply to #16

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/06/2020 4:23 PM

with this pandemic, I believe just about everyone is learning a lot they didn’t know before.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/06/2020 5:31 PM

Yes to that.

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/06/2020 6:30 PM

For sure! Unfortunately, quite a few are learning too late!

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#17
In reply to #2

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/06/2020 7:27 AM

Disagree. You are following the initial CDC initial recommendation which were wrong and they have since changed their story.

N95/N99 masks are in the tool box of millions of DIY, have been sold in the orange and blue big box stores and every SW store for 10 years. We all have extra for our family. I had to clean a few off from crawls space dirt before my wife would use them.

And we all know how to use them. Had CDC stated that mfg's would not be resupplying the big box stores until supplies at hospitals were sufficient, we would have accurate information, but if you have a mask please use them.

If this had been their first message, we might have saves 1000's of lives and started the mask movement 8 weeks earlier in February. Hearing their initial response angered me and I have lost all credibility with them.

I also see on this post, the DIY community also all figured out that they could be cleaned and put in the sun to disinfect them with UV.

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#14

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/05/2020 11:33 PM

Epsom Salt kills viruses on contact due to the shape of it's crystals,so after steam sterilizing my n95 mask,I spray it on the outside with a saturated solution of Epsom salt/water and let it dry.It may not help,but it cant hurt.

Oh yes,about the steam sterilizing: I saw an article about using a small container with water,a mesh bag as a support and placing the mask on the mesh and placing into a microwave oven.When the water boils,the steam will sterilize the mask in 2-3 minutes.There are alternate microwave methods such as placing mask in a zip lock bag with 50 ml water and microwaving for 2-3 minutes.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/decontamination-reuse-respirators.html

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#19

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/06/2020 10:22 AM

I have some N-95s from use in my shop. Why not just spray them with the 60%+ alcohol mist to sterilize between uses?

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#20

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/06/2020 4:22 PM

The problem with that, is one has to ensure the sterilization takes effect... if it’s only 80% Effective, it’s useless.

I had posted this before, a local company where I live was working with Michigan Tech to and has developed a mobile sterilization unit, with the process could be monitored.

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#24

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/07/2020 6:15 PM

I have been 3d printing Montana Masks for a hospital in Florida, AlliantHealth Atwater in Talavera, Florida, and have sent them 52 masks so far. These are masks suitable for emergency room use by hospital staff and are as good as the filter element you put in the mask. Read about it at https://www.makethemasks.com/.

The mask filter element is reusable if a specific protocol is followed, specifically 5 filters are placed in five paper bags. According to the developers, doctors in Billings Montana, the virus inactivates sufficiently to allow reuse of the filter if you rotate through the filter elements over a period of five days. A second protocol uses six filters in six paper bags with a six day rotation. The protocols indicate that the use of a plastic bag rather than paper actually extends the viability of the virus.

I have also been printing these masks for friends, neighbors and coworkers and used HEPA polyester filter from a home air filter rated to stop viruses for residences where there is an immune compromised individual. One of the doctors at the hospital in Florida cautioned me to be sure not to use a home air filter containing fiberglass. I confirmed this by checking the MSDS and burning a sample and confirming that it left no ash or fiber. The hospital uses surgical masks or duck bill masks rated to stop the virus and can typically get 8 filters per mask.

As far as placing an N95 mask in the sun, I would have concern for UV damage or embrittlement that over time would result in shedding plastic fibers or development of filter leakage. There is a process called a fit test where a chemical with either a banana or bitter smell is used to see if the filter is working and the mask seals are tight. If you can locate the chemical, you could test the sun sanitizing procedure over time by repeating the fit test. Let us know how it turns out. With proper adjustment, the Montana mask will pass a fit test for hospital use.

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: Sterilizing "95" Masks

07/10/2020 1:08 AM

One problem with trying to use the sun is that very little of the UVC wavelengths required to kill viruses get through the atmosphere and glass (e.g., auto windshield) is a good filter for these shorter UV wavelengths. I believe I've read that the virus can be killed with elevated temperatures--I suspect the interior of an automobile in full summer sun may be hot enough.

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