UV Light Effective in Disinfecting N95 Respirators for Reuse

The use of ultraviolet light to disinfect N95 respirators has minimal impact on their form and function, allowing the reuse of the masks, according to a recent National Institute of Standards and Technology study.

NIST researchers partnered with a private manufacturer of UV-C systems and an antimicrobial testing company to determine how UV-C light – a known disinfectant for air, water and nonporous surfaces, according to the Federal Drug Administration – could be used to disinfect N95s, which protect against the inhalation of dangerous particles such as viruses and bacteria.

The respirators were doused with a human coronavirus called OC43 – a relative of the virus that causes COVID-19 – and placed in an enclosure with 19 UV-C lamps that were turned on for three minutes at a time. The process was repeated 10 times. The study was published online in the Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

For more information, visit www.nvlpubs.nist.gov.