Ultraviolet light used to ‘recycle’ medical masks


ST. LOUIS – Video shows just how St. Louis area hospitals are able to reuse medical masks. This at a time when citizens are asked to voluntarily wear homemade cloth masks.

Masks have been a hot topic of conversation when people discuss personal protective equipment (PPE).

Here’s how they kill the disease if it gets on someone’s mask.

Medical workers put the used mask in a device that looks like a microwave oven. Ultraviolet lights inside the machine make the mask safe to wear again.

“It takes about 50 seconds on each side you have to actually expose it to the UV rays. You do one side 50 seconds; flip it over, do the other side,” said Dr. Rachel Charney, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Mike Schroeder, the head of the supply chain at BJC HealthCare, said the coronavirus will hit mask supplies much harder than something like the flu.

“In historic flu season, we used just under 100,000 masks in a week,” he said. “At this point, it’s projected over the next several weeks we’ll use above 500,000 masks in a week.”

The feds are now asking citizens to wear homemade cloth masks.

“It’s not to keep the virus away from you. It’s to keep any virus you have away from anyone else,” Charney said.

Scientists have learned that people who are asymptomatic—those who feel fine and have no signs of the disease—may be infected with the illness and spreading it.

“There’s a significant amount of people that we think are asymptomatic that may be able to transmit the virus to someone else even if they don’t have any symptoms,” Charney said.

The masks are marked with the user’s name before the first time the wear it, and they mark it each time it undergoes the UV lights.

So instead of using it once and throwing it away, they use it up to three times.

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