Site lead Kendra Versendall shows Gov. Brad Little how Battelle’s N95 mask-decontamination machine works. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
IDAHO FALLS — Gov. Brad Little visited Idaho Falls on Monday to tour a facility that can decontaminate 80,00 N95 masks a day.
Battelle has developed technology that can decontaminate the N95 masks, which are critical for protecting against COVID-19. The company is offering the service for free to health care facilities and first responders.
Little toured Battelle’s Idaho Falls facility to learn more about the decontamination work and to raise awareness about the service.
“N95 masks, at one point in time — they were the critical weak link. We couldn’t do testing. We couldn’t do anything without enough N95 masks,” Little said during his tour.
He said he believes decontaminating the masks so they can keep being used will help to solve the shortage.
“Now that we can clean them here, that just makes everything a lot easier,” Little said.
Battelle’s Idaho Falls facility site lead Kendra Versendaal said Battelle’s free decontamination program is available to health care providers, first responders and correction facilities in Idaho.
Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination System. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
“We do have over 240 sites signed up in Idaho to participate in this service,” Versendall said during Monday’s tour. “And we welcome anybody else who’s interested to sign up.”
Those interested in signing up can do so by clicking here.
“There’s no cost to participate in this program. And the program does cover the shipping costs as well,” Versendall said.
Battelle began researching how to decontaminate N95 masks after the 2015 SARS outbreak when the FDA asked the company if it was possible to decontaminate the masks in the event of a PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage.
Battelle created the Critical Care Decontamination System, which uses vapor-phased hydrogen peroxide to eliminate pathogens on contaminated masks.
“They can be cleaned up to 20 times,” Versendall said. “We can clean up to 80,000 a day here at this site.”
Battelle is researching what else can be decontaminated and reused with its process.