The process uses specialized equipment to aerosolize hydrogen peroxide, which permeates the layers of the mask to kills germs, including viruses, without degrading the mask material. “This is a decontamination technology and method we’ve used for years in our biocontainment laboratory,” said Scott Alderman, associate director of the Duke Regional Biocontainment Laboratory.

“We had never considered needing it for something like face masks. But we’ve now proven that it works and will begin using the technology immediately in all three Duke Health hospitals,” said Matthew Stiegel, Ph.D., director of the Occupational and Environmental safety Office.

The decontamination process should keep a significant number of N95 masks in use at Duke University Hospital as well as Duke Regional and Duke Raleigh hospitals, easing some of the shortage and curbing the need for other alternatives using unproven decontamination techniques.