Alabama decon site makes N95 masks safe for health care workers to reuse

Alabama decon site makes N95 masks safe for health care workers to reuse
Alabama National Guard leadership toured the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System. (Mark Jerald / Alabama NewsCenter)

A new Birmingham facility is playing a key role in helping Alabama health care workers overcome shortages of a critical piece of personal protective equipment as they fight COVID-19.

Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System is one of 60 sites nationally decontaminating the vital N95 respirator face masks used to protect health care workers from contracting the coronavirus.

The masks have been in short supply and the Battelle CCDS facility can decontaminate approximately 80,000 of them per day and return them to the health care facilities where they came from.

Alabama facility decontaminates critical N95 masks for health care workers from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

This service is provided at no charge to organizations that include hospitals, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, imaging centers, outpatient surgical centers and emergency medical service providers in Alabama through a federal contract with the Battelle. The system is strictly intended to optimize the personal protective equipment supply for medical workers in a health care setting, not individuals or other organizations.

“Our priority is to protect health care staff, first responders and patients,” Tim Hatch, deputy director of the Center for Emergency Preparedness, Alabama Department of Public Health, said. “The Battelle system will play a crucial role in our state strategy to preserve N95 respirator masks to protect our frontline workers and COVID-19 patients.”

Battelle CCDS is based on research that Battelle performed for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015 to assess the feasibility of decontaminating N95 respirator masks in the event of a PPE shortage resulting from a pandemic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has provided Battelle an Emergency Use Authorization.

The Battelle system uses concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor in a 2.5-hour process that removes biological contaminants, including the virus that causes COVID-19 from used N95 respirator masks.

Battelle, a global nonprofit science and technology development organization, was awarded the contract by the Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The system is designed to bridge the gap until the supply chain for new masks can meet the demand.

More information for health care providers about the Battelle decontamination system is available at battelle.org/decon.

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