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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Reprocessing

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused shortages of PPE; as a result, hospitals and healthcare facilities are left with few options but to reuse equipment that was never intended to be reused. Nelson Labs has compiled a test plan to assist innovators trying to validate reprocessing solutions:


Respirators or masks are exposed to a disinfecting or sterilizing process to remove virus and other potential contaminants:

  • Vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) Masks are exposed to a specific cycle in the VHP sterilizer (VPRO 1 VPRO 60)
  • Heat dry-heat disinfection (70°-100°C)
  • Ultraviolet light exposure to UV light at a specific intensity and duration (254-260nm)
  • Chemical spray disinfectants (vs. soaking or wiping which can harm the medium)
  • Radiation exposure to gamma radiation

Functionality Filtration/ Breathability Testing

Following a disinfection/sterilization reprocessing cycle, it is necessary to re-evaluate the functional properties of the filter media:

  • Respirators: NaCl, DOP, valve leak, and inhalation/exhalation tests
  • Surgical Masks: Synthetic Blood, BFE, PFE, breathability, Flammability

Biosafety Testing

Following a disinfection/sterilization reprocessing cycle it is also necessary to re-evaluate biosafety for the wearer:

  • Cytotoxicity MEM Elution or Agar Overlay
  • Toxicological Risk Assessment

– or –

  • Cytotoxicity MEM or Agar Overlay
  • Irritation In-vivo contact dermatitis
  • Sensitization In-vivo hypersensitivity