In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is executing high-impact projects to help answer critical questions about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Vital personal protective equipment such as filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) is in limited supply due to high demand. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided guidance for decontamination and reuse of FFRs where shortages exist, and moist heat is one of their recommended decontamination methods. S&T has identified programmable multicookers with a sous vide function, or equivalent setting, as a suitable means to treat FFRs with moist heat at home.
The information contained here describes research about possible methods for filtering facepiece respirator decontamination for SARS-CoV-2. This decontamination method does not address decontamination of other contaminants. These methods described on this webpage and in the linked documents are currently not approved for use by employers or workers who are subject to the requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), including OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134) or subject to Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations. Use of these methods may violate the Respiratory Protection standard, and could result in OSHA enforcement action. Employers should consult OSHA’s enforcement guidance on this topic, which describes the enforcement discretion OSHA is allowing, and steps employers would be expected to take, around filtering facepiece respirator decontamination in healthcare. Note that OSHA’s enforcement guidance only allows use of this discretion in healthcare, not to other sectors.
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