Unfortunately, healthcare workers have had limited access to N95 respirators during the COVID-19 pandemic. These protect against SARS-CoV-2 transmission spread via droplet and aerosols, providing much better protection than just Level-2 surgical masks. Even though we are now months into the pandemic, N95 masks which are a single use disposable mask, must be reused for days, weeks and often for months at a time. As a consequence, healthcare facilities have had to reuse these masks and consider ways to sanitize them. A recent study (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00534?ref=pdf) showed that an electric cooker could be used to sanitize N95 masks. The cooker is set at 212 degrees for 50 minutes. The researchers demonstrated that this could be done without compromising the masks fit or integrity. They further stated that multiple masks could be sanitized at the same time.
A more elegant and more expensive alternative to the $50 electric cooker is the AUVS (Advanced Ultraviolet System) Disinfection Box which was originally designed to sanitize mobile devices. However according to the Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) the AUVS system described in the video can be used if users …
“Follow the UV device manufacturer’s recommendations for disinfection cycle time, which ranges from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Aim to achieve a UV dose of at least 18 mJ/ cm2 (most devices will achieve this within the manufacturer-specified disinfection cycle time); doses over 59 mJ/cm2 are preferred.”
Phonesoap and similar devices produce a dose of 60 mJ/cm2 ( see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875094/), which according to ECRI will effectively sanitize an N95 mask. The larger, AUVS BOX provides 200 mJ/cm2 in a 55 second disinfection cycle, more than enough to sanitize N95 respirators. This means one can sanitize respirators between patients if your N95 supply is limited, you can afford a device costing several thousand dollars, and you’d prefer to use your electric cooker for making lunch.