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Filtering Facepiece Respirator Mask Sterilization Oven

  • Project Leaders: David Sommer, Steven Rogak
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $73500
  • Program/Competition: COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding Program
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2020
  • Status: Active

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, the number of patients requiring aerosol generating medical procedures, including for breathing assistance, will also increase significantly. These procedures, which can disperse viral particles into the air, are a risk for healthcare professionals, who need the protection provided by filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) masks. These masks would typically be used once and then disposed of, but supply shortages mean that masks need to be reused if it is possible to do so safely. This project aims to create and validate a heat sterilization oven to safely decontaminate FFR masks for re-use that could be quickly manufactured by existing partners in the Lower Mainland and easily adopted in any jurisdiction. Heat-based sterilization methods offer a distinct set of advantages compared to other sterilization approaches such as UV and hydrogen peroxide because they require no specialty components with competitive supply-chain limitations (e.g. bulbs, ballasts, vaporizers, consumables) and the final device only requires standard wall power to operate. The project team for this work includes laboratories with the necessary equipment to validate the method, as well as the technical expertise to bring it to a cost-effective scale of manufacturing in the next four to five weeks.