Safe and effective decontamination and reuse of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) has the potential to significantly extend FFR holdings, mitigating a potential shortage due to an influenza pandemic or other pandemic events. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) has been shown to be effective for decontaminating influenza-contaminated FFRs. This study aims to build on past research by evaluating the UVGI decontamination efficiency of influenza-contaminated FFRs in the presence of soiling agents using an optimized UVGI dose.
Twelve samples each of 15 N95 FFR models were contaminated with H1N1 influenza (facepiece and strap), then covered with a soiling agent-artificial saliva or artificial skin oil. For each soiling agent, 3 contaminated FFRs were treated with 1 J/cm2 UVGI for approximately 1 minute, whereas 3 other contaminated FFRs remained untreated. All contaminated surfaces were cut out and virus extracted. Viable influenza was quantified using a median tissue culture infectious dose assay.
Significant reductions (≥3 log) in influenza viability for both soiling conditions were observed on facepieces from 12 of 15 FFR models and straps from 7 of 15 FFR models.
These data suggest that FFR decontamination and reuse using UVGI can be effective. Implementation of a UVGI method will require careful consideration of FFR model, material type, and design.