The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the whole world and posing an unending challenge for healthcare systems, hospitals, medics, and paramedics. One vivid example is the shortage of equipment and preventive kits, including N95 masks. The lack of N95 masks has forced many local hospitals to use the ordinary masks also. So this raises the problem of how best to sterilize the masks for—if necessary—reuse. 

In an editorial published in The Open Dermatology Journal, Craig G. Burkhart, MD, from the Department of Medicine, University of Toledo College of Medicine, offers his suggestion for sterilizing the protective masks. According to him, the best cleansing solution for protective masks is treating them with chemical sterilizing agents: The oxidative processes with low molecular weight molecules, used with tested methodologies, can kill all bacteria, mold, and viruses. Ozone sterilization is one very effective method.

Ozone or activated oxygen (O3) is a sterilizing agent that has proved successful in destroying bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. Combatting viruses, ozone diffuses into their protein coat, all the way to the nucleic acid, damaging and killing the organism. The activated oxygen destroys the unsaturated lipid envelope of the virus by breaking the existing multiple bond configuration. Because the nuclear content cannot survive without an intact lipid envelope, the virus dies. The COVID-19 virus is one such virus that has an unsaturated lipid envelope enclosing the nuclear content. Other viruses that cannot withstand the activated oxygen include poliovirus 1 and 2, human rotavirus, Norwalk virus, Parvoviruses, and Hepatitis A, B, and non-A non-B.1.

SoClean is one of the sanitizers that uses this method for sterilizing cloths, masks, and such items. It comes with the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and both can be used to sterilize N95 and other masks for reusing in the hospitals and elsewhere.

This editorial is open access, and the full text can be found in The Open Dermatology Journal.