It’s used to decontaminate N95 masks used by medical personnel and fist responders.
Frederick, Md (KM) A unit to decontaminate N95 masks used by medical personnel and first responders has been developed by Frederick County.
The unit uses the same technology the county uses in its water purification and waste water treatment systems. “Sometimes people don’t think that a government is on the cutting edge with innovation and creativity. But the idea for this came from our employees,” says County Executive Jan Gardner.
The concept originated with Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Michael Marshner. Department of Water and Wastewater Maintenance Superintendent Brad Nee and Assistant Superintendent Jim Smith were instrumental in bringing the idea to life, according to background materials from the county. Acting Director of the Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management, Mark Schweitzer, worked with the University of California at Berkeley engineers and validated the unit’s effectiveness. The other staff involved were Electronic Instrumentation Technician III Phillip Kershner, Electrical Maintenance Technician IV Joshua Schafer, Electrical Maintenance Technician II Colin Allnut, and Electrical Maintenance Technician II Wyatt Wilson..
“And they partnered with people at UC at Berkeley to get the expertise and to really validate this system,” says Gardner.
The masks are exposed to ultra-violet light for about 20-minutes, which disrupts the DNA of he microorganisms and viruses,making them inactive. This allows the masks to be used more than once rather than be thrown away after one use as is the normal practice, according to background materials from the county.
One of these units has been delivered to Frederick Health Hospital. “I continue to be impressed and grateful for the support Frederick Health has received from our community,” said Tom Kleinhanzl, President and CEO of Frederick Health,in a statement. . “The development of this decontamination unit is another example of the Frederick Community remaining proactive, and focused on developing solutions to the challenges we currently face due to COVID-19. Frederick Health Hospital currently has an adequate supply of N95 masks to protect our frontline staff. This decontamination unit provides another level of reassurance in the event of an N95 mask shortage.”
The coronavirus pandemic has led to shortages in the N95 masks and other personal protective equipment on the part of physicians, nurses and other medical personnel as well as first responders. In some instances, they ended up using the same masks more than once.
By Kevin McManus