Mask shortage

SO why can’t the masks be sterilized in an autoclave?

Do hospitals still even have autoclaves anymore?

How about misting the masks with isopropyl? It is a pretty good sterilization agent (the active ingredient in that Hand Sanitizer people use instead of handwashing). It’s cheap and readily available. Easy to apply….  one could easily wet the surfaces with a mist using a simple airbrush. (might need ventilation as the fumes can be flammable) and let them dry for a few hours.

Of course, they could just stop using the masks ONCE for each time they enter and then leave the room….but yes, I know…”Protocol”. But that protocol assumes an unlimited supply of those masks. Now that supply is finite. so one would think they would change that “Protocol”.

6 thoughts on “Mask shortage

  1. Wirecutter had an article about steaming them in a microwave, but I didn't read the article. Frankly that metal bending nose thingy would be a problem. . . if they had one. Autoclaves are a good idea, however, the logistics would be interesting. I used an autoclave for some research years ago, and whatever is in them is subjected to very high steam temp and pressure. Maybe something a mask couldn't handle. Like the rubber straps for example. Cryogenics have been thrown about as a sterilization method. Maybe liquid nitrogen? But cryo tends to allow things to reanimate when thawed out.
    Oh well, JMHO.

  2. They're not made to sterilize.
    Rubber band straps, etc.

    The filtration material doesn't handle it well, and now they're not N95 masks, they're N45 masks. meaning they let 55% of the germs they used to filter get through. and they're not built to re-use, because once they get wet (with vapor from exhalation) they don't work anymore.

    You can have masks that will last 24 hours.
    The military uses them, and they cost about $300@.
    Replacement filters are about $50@.
    The disposables are about $1@.
    So for the price of one day's bombproof .mil mask, you can get 350 disposables.
    you also spend half an hour deconing the .Mil mask between patients. So if you spend 6 hours cleaning, you can see 4 patients 3x apiece, in a shift.
    Kind of a problem, from a care standpoint.

    When you can get disposables.

    China nationalizing (outright seizing) the 3M plant that made most of them, last month, didn't help us any.

    And the autoclaves we have are in Sterile Processing.
    And they take 1-2 hours to sterilize anything.

    The short answer is, if hospitals spend the money upfront, there's probably 10 ways to do this right.
    But if they don't (and they don't ever) there's no ways to do this right.

    Welcome to my world.

  3. Well, washing cloth masks in boiling water with bleach is a known technique. Sure, cloth masks were replaced by disposable because of effectiveness, but that's not what we're talking about. It's not cloth vs. disposable, it's cloth vs. nothing.

    Actually, it's cloth vs. nothing OR YOU'RE FIRED.

  4. THe masks I have, paper fibers, construction masks are n-95. THey still pass air after being wet and then dried. Not sure how well they filter after that, but they DO move air.

    As far as the time to sterilize….so what? You can pack a LOT of masks into an autoclave, at least the ones I have seen. Several hundred in 2 hours…..WOuldn't that make a difference? Be better than nothing?

    Doing things the same old way "Because Procedure" only works when things are normal.
    At some point you have to try something different.

    Used but clean and sterile paper masks that can be used again, even if only once more have to be better than cloth masks that only stop small insects and large dust….

  5. I served under a crusty old fella who taught me this: "I do not care about why it won't work – figure out a way to MAKE it work." Words to live by (at the time literally).

  6. Actually, the more you pack in an autoclave, the less well it works.
    And a sterile mask, with no way to hold it on your face, is kind of a problem if you need to use your hands.

    Whether wet masks that have been dried out and sterilized still function is an open question. I'd like to know the answer too. But when we had them by the metric f**kton, and they're $1@, no one cared, so we don't know the answer now, when it's kind of important.

    3M, Scott, et al, should step up, in an Apollo XIII kind of way, and get on this.

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