A method to determine the available UV-C dose for the decontamination of filtering facepiece respirators

J Appl Microbiol. 2011 Jan;110(1):287-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04881.x. Epub 2010 Nov 4.


Aims: To develop a method to assess model-specific parameters for ultraviolet-C (UV-C, 254 nm) decontamination of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs).

Methods and results: UV-C transmittance was quantified for the distinct composite layers of six N95 FFR models and used to calculate model-specific α-values, the percentage of the surface UV-C irradiance available for the internal filtering medium (IFM). Circular coupons, excised from the FFRs, were exposed to aerosolized particles containing MS2 coliphage and treated with IFM-specific UV-C doses ranging from 38 to 4707 J m(-2). Models exposed to a minimum IFM dose of 1000 J m(-2) demonstrated at least a 3 log reduction (LR) in viable MS2. Model-specific exposure times to achieve this IFM dose ranged from 2 to 266 min.

Conclusions: UV-C transmits into and through FFR materials. LR of MS2 was a function of model-specific IFM UV-C doses.

Significance and impact of the study: Filtering facepiece respirators are in high demand during infectious disease outbreaks, potentially leading to supply shortages. Reuse of disposable FFRs after decontamination has been discussed as a possible remediation strategy, but to date lacks supporting scientific evidence. The methods described here can be used to assess the likelihood that UV-C decontamination will be successful for specific FFR models.

MeSH terms

  • Decontamination / methods*
  • Filtration
  • Levivirus / radiation effects
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Respiratory Protective Devices / virology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*