FDA-approved facility set to decontaminate N95 face masks in Alabama


CONTACT: Karen Landers, M.D.,
(256) 383-1231

Alabama health care providers and emergency responders on the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic now have a free service that will decontaminate previously worn N95 respirator face masks so the masks can be safely reused. N95 masks, which help prevent health care workers’ exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates, are often unavailable during this time of critical shortages.

A new facility in Birmingham operated by the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination SystemTM is one of 60 nationally deployed decontamination system sites. Alabama health care facilities have begun collecting, labeling and shipping their used masks to the Birmingham location where Battelle decontaminates the masks and returns them directly to the providers. The tested system can mean a respirator mask can be sent for decontamination multiple times. Approximately 80,000 masks per day can be processed at the site.

This service is provided at no charge to organizations that include hospitals, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, imaging centers, outpatient surgical centers and emergency medical service providers in Alabama through a federal contract with the Battelle. The system is strictly intended to optimize the personal protective equipment supply for medical workers in a health care setting; other organizations and individuals are not allowed to use their services.

“Our priority is to protect health care staff, first responders and patients,” Tim Hatch, deputy director of the Center for Emergency Preparedness, Alabama Department of Public Health, said. “The Battelle system will play a crucial role in our state strategy to preserve N95 respirator masks to protect our frontline workers and COVID-19 patients.”

Battelle CCDSTM is based on research that Battelle performed for the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 to assess the feasibility of decontaminating N95 respirator masks in the event of a PPE shortage resulting from a pandemic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has provided Battelle an Emergency Use Authorization.

The Battelle system uses concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor in a 2.5-hour process that removes biological contaminants, including the virus that causes COVID-19 from used N95 respirator masks.

Battelle, a global nonprofit science and technology development organization, was awarded the contract by the Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The system is designed to bridge the gap until the supply chain for new masks can meet the demand.

More information for health care providers about the Battelle decontamination system is available at battelle.org/decon.

County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.

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