Researchers at the University of Illinois have found a new way to sanitize N95 respirator masks: an Instant Pot.
According to a new study published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, multicookers can effectively decontaminate highly sought after N95 masks so that they can be reused without ruining their shape and function.
“There are many different ways to sterilize something, but most of them will destroy the filtration or the fit of an N95 respirator,” Vishal Verma, one of the researchers who made the discovery said via the Illinois News Bureau. “Any sanitation method would need to decontaminate all surfaces of the respirator, but equally important is maintaining the filtration efficacy and the fit of the respirator to the face of the wearer. Otherwise, it will not offer the right protection.”
Verma, a civil and environmental engineering professor along with colleague Thanh “Helen” Nguyen posted a video on YouTube explaining their method.
They say that 50 minutes of dry heat around 212 degrees Fahrenheit inside an electric cooker or an Instant Pot effectively sanitizes the masks from four different types of virus, including a coronavirus.
The researchers measured three different criteria: decontamination, filtration and fit and they believe their method using the dry heat maintains an N95 mask's integrity in all three categories.
The researchers hope the cleaning method will help ease the high demand of the N95 masks during the coronavirus pandemic particularly for health care workers and first responders.