News | 23 March 2020

Sterilisation method enables reuse of face masks

Exploratory research at Maastricht University Medical Center+ has demonstrated that medical FFP2 face masks can be made completely germ-free through plasma sterilisation. This means that a mouth and nose mask can be used three times instead of being discarded after a single use. This method was validated today by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

Plasma sterilisation
plasma sterilisationplasma sterilisationAt Maastricht UMC+, FFP2 face masks were collected from a number of wards in connection with the threat of shortages of protective equipment. Sterile medical equipment expert Roy Pelzer of the medical microbiology department did research on the possibility of using plasma sterilisation on the contaminated face masks. The research showed that this method effectively kills all microorganisms. The RIVM subsequently tested the filtration function of these masks, among other things. Research by Pelzer and the RIVM, among others, showed that the masks could be used at least three times instead of just once.

Plasma sterilisation
Plasma sterilisation uses hydrogen peroxide at a lower temperature than, for example, steam sterilisation. When this process is carried out in a vacuum, a temperature of 60°C is sufficient to kill all microorganisms. Many heat-sensitive materials, such as plastics or electrical components, can therefore be sterilised using this method without melting. A single plasma steriliser can currently prepare a maximum of 2400 face masks per day for reuse.

Read more about this subject on the RIVM website.