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People of SU / Science, Technology and Health
April 9, 2020
Take one look at Seattle University student Daniel Lee’s email signature and you’ll understand why he is among 60 academics and professionals nationally that formed a research group to finds ways to decontaminate and reuse N95 face masks to help counter a severe shortage of the critical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lee, ’22, is a mechanical engineering major and chair of the Seattle U chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, president of the Mechanical Engineering club, a teaching assistant and lab manager of the 3D Printing Lab.
Last week, the group unveiled the website N95decon.org that synthesizes the scientific literature about mask decontamination to create a set of best practices to decontaminate and reuse this protective face covering during the current emergency.
The team members who came together over the last few weeks scoured hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and held continuous online meetings to review studies of decontamination methods that have been used on previous viral and bacterial pathogens and then to assess the potential to use these methods on the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
Their goal was to provide overwhelmed health officials with reliable, pre-digested scientific information about the pros and cons of three decontamination methods should local shortages force a choice between decontamination and reuse or going unmasked.
“There is no perfect method to decontaminate N95 masks but we decided to do an in-depth study of some possible methods, including heat and humidity, ultraviolet light (UV-C) and hydrogen peroxide vapor,” Lee says. “Personally, I worked on the heat team doing research on what equipment hospitals have and can be repurposed into decontamination devices.”
Lee also contacted companies to compile a list of equipment that fit the group’s requirements. Currently, he is busy responding to emails generated by interest in N95decon.org.
“I would like to start looking into determining ways for countries with fewer resources to decontaminate their mask,” says Lee.
And with the spring quarter now underway, he’ll be busy with the mechanical engineering club and, “trying to maintain a sense of community” now that classroom instruction is now remote.
A story with more information about N95decon.org can be found here from the Stanford University News Service.
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