Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders, announced Thursday that a system capable of decontaminating N95 masks is expected to be operational in Massachusetts on Monday, April 6.
The Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System can decontaminate an N95 mask up to 10 times before being discarded.
The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] gave emergency authorization for Battelle’s system to be used on March 29.
Partners Healthcare System will host the system at the former K-Mart location on Middlesex Ave. in Somerville.
Somerville will be the fourth location in the United States where the system is operating.
Battelle, the manufacturer of CCDS, will own and operate the system. The cost to decontaminate each mask is $3.25. Sudeers said that Battelle expects it can reduce that cost when the company reaches national quantity levels.
According to Sudders, the system will eventually be capable of decontaminating up to 80,000 masks per day. That volume would exceed the demand of all of Massachusetts.
The N95 is a respirator mask that protects the person wearing it against airborne droplets from sneezing or coughs. It is a critical piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare personnel treating patients with COVID-19.
Across the world, N95 masks are in short supply and under extreme demand because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued guidance on extended use and reuse of N95 masks to enable healthcare providers to conserve resources.