South Dakota State University’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety has been decontaminating N95 masks for the university since September and Brookings Health System since mid-November. SDSU has decontaminated approximately 150 marks for the health system and the number increases daily.
The department renovated a room in the Avera Health and Science Center to allow the process to take place. The 30-minute delivery of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation decontaminates the masks, allowing them to be used again and helping decrease the demand for new masks. Masks have been decontaminated up to eight times. SDSU radiates anywhere from 16 to 20 masks per run but is exploring ways to do more at one time.
Each mask arrives in a paper bag, with both the mask and the bag having the wearer’s name. The bag is opened, the mask removed and hung on wire shelving with the bag placed below.
The ultraviolet germicidal irradiation treatment takes place and then the mask is placed in a new paper bag, which is then returned to the hospital. The old paper bag is then disposed.