Assessment of half-mask elastomeric respirator and powered air-purifying respirator reprocessing for an influenza pandemic

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Health care facilities are considering the use of reusable respiratory protective devices (RPDs) to mitigate a potential N95 filtering facepiece respirator shortage caused by an influenza pandemic. US regulators are also considering stockpiling reusable RPDs for pandemic preparedness, but limited data exist on the effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection of these devices. This study defines reprocessing protocols and evaluates their effectiveness against a pandemic influenza strain in a laboratory setting.


Five half-mask elastomeric respirator models and 3 powered air-purifying respirator models were contaminated with influenza virus and artificial skin oil on multiple surfaces. RPDs were then manually treated with 1 of 2 methods: cleaned or cleaned and disinfected. Presence of viable influenza was determined via swab sampling and a median tissue culture infectious dose assay.


Across 41 RPD surfaces, a mean log reduction in viable influenza of 4.54 ± 0.97 log10 median tissue culture infectious dose was achieved for all treated surfaces, which included both cleaned and cleaned and disinfected surfaces.


The methods defined as part of this study are effective for eliminating viable influenza in the presence of artificial skin oil on most of the RPD surfaces tested. Material type and RPD design should be considered when implementing RPD reprocessing protocols.

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