Coronavirus Pandemic: New research says that humid steam from Pressure Cooker or Rice Cooker-Steamer can decontaminate cloth and surgical face masks and N95 respirators
If you are using an N95 face mask/respirator or any other face mask you don’t have to dispose it of after a single-use. Researchers from Cleveland, Ohio say that the humid steam from your pressure cooker or rice steamer is good enough to decontaminate it and use it again.
A team of researchers from Cleveland, Ohio comprising of Daniel F, Curtis J. Donskey, and Jennifer L. Cadnum from Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, and Sarah N. Redmond and Lucas D. Jones from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine studied into the effect of humid steam on the N95 face masks and respirators.
The researcher found “that a short cycle of steam treatment applied via a commonly used kitchen rice cooker-steamer can be very effective for decontamination of face masks and N95 respirators.” They also studied the effect of decontaminating the N95 face masks and respirators using microwaves but found that it was not as effective as the pressure cooker. The researchers said that dry heat was less effective than moist heat or microwave-generated steam for deactivating viruses. They also found “the short cycle of steam treatment was substantially more effective than ultraviolet light treatment for N95 decontamination and nearly as effective as aerosolized peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide.”
The scientists only studied the decontamination issues with N95 face masks and respirators. They did not examine the efficacy of the mask performance after decontamination.
Their study was further certified by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate which found the pressure cooker was indeed more effective in decontaminating the face masks and respirators for reuse.
“Given the significance of this outbreak and importance of respiratory protection for first responders and medical professionals, we’re investigating simple, low-cost means to sanitize potentially contaminated N95 respirators,” said Dr. Lloyd Hough, lead for S&T’s Hazard Awareness and Characterization Technology Center. “We hope front line personnel who need to use them can take advantage of this approach to extend the life of their limited supply of this critical piece of PPE.”
The S&T has published a nice video explaining how you can do the decontamination yourself at home. The video details DIY decontamination by using moist heat from a programmable multicooker, such as an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
This is a very important bit of study considering the widespread effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the very infectious nature of COVID-19 strains. It is also pertinent to note that there is a huge shortage of N95 face masks and respirators around the world and such time of decontamination procedures can help a small bit to ease the constraints of the N95 mask supply.