Electron beam technology for Re-processing of personal protective equipment. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Beginning with the outbreak of COVID-19 at the dawn of 2020, the continuing spread of the pandemic has challenged the healthcare market and the supply chain of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) around the world. Moreover, the emergence of the variants of COVID-19 occurring in waves threatens the sufficient supply of PPE. Among the various types of PPE, N95 Respirators, surgical masks, and medical gowns are the most consumed and thus have a high potential for a serious shortage during such emergencies. Considering the unanticipated demand for PPE during a pandemic, re-processing of used PPE is one approach to continue to protect the health of first responders and healthcare personnel. This paper evaluates the viability and efficacy of using FDA-approved electron beam (eBeam) sterilization technology (ISO 11137) to re-process used PPE. PPEs including 3M N95 Respirators, Proxima Sirus gowns, and face shields were eBeam irradiated in different media (air, argon) over a dose range of 0-200kGy. Several tests were then performed to examine surface properties, mechanical properties, functionality performance, discoloration phenomenon, and liquid barrier performance. The results show a reduction of filtration efficiency to about 63.6% in the N95 Respirator; however, charge regeneration may improve the re-processed efficiency. Additionally, mechanical degradation was observed in Proxima Sirus gown with increasing dose up to 100kGy. However, no mechanical degradation was observed in the face shields after 10 times donning and doffing. Apart from the face shield, N95 Respirators and Proxima Sirus gown both show significant mechanical degradation with ebeam dose over sterilization doses (>25kGy), indicating that eBeam technology is not appropriate for the re-processing these PPEs.

published proceedings

  • Radiat Phys Chem Oxf Engl 1993

author list (cited authors)

  • Huang, M., Hasan, M. K., Pillai, S. D., Pharr, M., & Staack, D.

complete list of authors

  • Huang, Min||Hasan, Md Kamrul||Pillai, Suresh D||Pharr, Matt||Staack, David

publication date

  • January 2023