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Decontamination of SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses from N95 level meltblown polypropylene fabric using heat under different humidities

By Rafael K Campos, Jing Jin, Grace H. Rafael, Mervin Zhao, Lei Liao, Graham Simmons, Steven Chu, Scott Weaver, Wah Chiu, Yi Cui

Posted 14 Aug 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.10.20171728

In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The pandemic led to a shortage of N95-grade filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), especially for protection of healthcare professionals against airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. We and others have previously reported promising decontamination methods that may be applied to the recycling and reuse of FFRs. In this study we tested disinfection of three viruses including SARS-CoV-2, dried on a piece of meltblown fabric, the principal component responsible for filtering of fine particles in N95-level FFRs, under a range of temperatures (60-95{degrees}C) at ambient or 100% relative humidity (RH) in conjunction with filtration efficiency testing. We found that heat treatments of 75{degrees}C for 30 min or 85{degrees}C for 20 min at 100% RH resulted in efficient decontamination from the fabric of SARS-CoV-2, human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63) and chikungunya virus vaccine strain 181 (CHIKV-181), without lowering the meltblown fabric's filtration efficiency.

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