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Sun May 17, 2020, 08:40 AM

Reusing protective gear risks exposure to dangerous chemicals, experts warn


Reusing protective gear risks exposure to dangerous chemicals, experts warn

Hallie Golden in Seattle

Published on Sun 17 May 2020 10.00 BST

Hospitals and other facilities have dealt with an extreme shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks, gloves and gowns, by reusing equipment that would usually be discarded after use.

A range of practices to decontaminate equipment have been adopted, from storing equipment in paper bags for days, to using UV light and chemical disinfectants.

At Saint Catherine of Siena medical center, a hospital on Long Island, New York, healthcare workers reported spraying their reusable gowns with Virex II 256, a highly potent cleaner marketed for “hard, inanimate, nonporous surfaces” such as floors and walls.

In Colorado, health workers said they had been wiping down their face shields so frequently with the disinfectant CaviWipes that they became opaque.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance for healthcare practitioners reusing PPE when there is a severe shortage, including potentially reusing cloth isolation gowns without laundering them and cleaning face shields with federally registered hospital disinfectants.

But Virex, CaviWipes and most products included on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of disinfectants for use against coronavirus have active ingredients that belong to a class of chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds, which release formaldehyde. Studies have shown these compounds can cause asthma, fertility issues and birth defects, and irritate the skin, eyes and lungs.

In recent weeks, at least half a dozen practices for disinfecting N95 masks have also been shown to decrease the filtration efficiency and thus make it possible for viral particles to get through, according to Melissa J Perry, chair of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University. These include using quaternary ammonium compounds, as well as bleach and ethanol.

The only protocols that appear to safely disinfect these masks are hydrogen peroxide vapor, UV radiation and a 65-90C heat treatment, Perry said.

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Reply Reusing protective gear risks exposure to dangerous chemicals, experts warn (Original post)
nitpicker May 2020 OP
crickets May 2020 #1

Response to nitpicker (Original post)

Sun May 17, 2020, 09:55 AM

1. K&R for visibility.

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