DOD Awards Contract for N95 Mask Decontamination

Necessity is the mother of invention, as proved by the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Masks have been in short supply, endangering the lives of healthcare providers.

Battelle Memorial Institute Critical Care has been awarded a $415 million Department of Defense contract to produce 60 Critical Care Decontamination Systems (CCDS), that can decontaminate up to 80,000 used N95 respirator masks per system per day, enabling reuse up to 20 times, according to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, DOD spokesman.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve the use of hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus patients, it granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to the Ohio-based company to use its system that can decontaminate the masks.

The respirator masks [originally meant for one-time use] are exposed to the validated concentration level of vapor phase hydrogen peroxide (VPHP) for 2.5 hours to decontaminate biological contaminants, including SARS-CoV-2. Battelle CCDS can decontaminate the same respirator mask up to 20 times without degrading the mask’s performance, according to a Batelle press release.

“We’re grateful for the support of our state and federal officials and other business partners,” states Matthew Vaughan, Senior Vice President of Battelle’s Contract Research Organization. “All parts of Battelle are working extended hours and weekends to ramp up manufacturing and operation of the Critical Care Decontamination System. Our partnership with Central Ohio healthcare systems has been crucial to working out critical details.”

In order to ensure that everything is done as safely and transparently as possible, the N95 masks that Battelle collects for decontamination and reuse will all go back to the same healthcare facility from which they were collected, and will be labeled with a serial number that provides tracking, which will also include the number of times the masks are re-used.

All 60 systems will be available by early May for prioritization and distribution by FEMA and HHS. Once all are delivered, these 60 units will allow 4.8 million masks to be sterilized per day, almost 34 million per week, according to Lt. Col. Andrews.

“I remain extremely proud of the selfless efforts of Department of Defense personnel who continue to do everything they can to help provide medical masks, test kits, medicine and meals to support America’s military, medical, emergency services and law enforcement professionals who are on the front lines and need them most,” said Under Secretary of Defense Ellen Lord.


3M Co. 8210V N95 particulate respirators are arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, April 6, 2020. 3M pushed back against a request from the Trump administration to halt exports of protective face masks, saying the move would cut off critical supplies for neighboring countries and raise “significant” humanitarian concerns. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images



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