April 19, 2020

Decontamination of N95 Respirators

We received notice yesterday that Health Canada approved the process of decontaminating N95 respirators for reuse by health care workers.

Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) are moving forward to collect N95 respirators for the possibility of decontaminating (employers use the term sterilizing) and reusing them. RHAs have assured RNU the use of decontaminated N95s will be a last resort used only if all other options are depleted.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Ensuring an adequate supply of PPE, including N95s, as our province continues to face this pandemic is critical.

We support the reuse of decontaminated respirators as a crisis capacity strategy. All other options, such as measures to acquire new supply and obtain other respirator types must be exhausted first.

Health Canada approval was granted following rigorous validation testing by the manufacturer. This includes ensuring N95s still meet the fit-testing criteria and have proper filtering capacity.

The decontamination approach that will be used in NL is the same approach being used in other provinces across the country.

Health Canada requires the decontaminated N95 respirator to be used by a single user. You will be asked to mark your name, employee number and unit with a permanent marker on a label that will be provided. You will not be asked to reuse a respirator worn by another health care worker. The sterilizing process will be completed up to two times on an N95 respirator.

RNU meets regularly with RHAs on COVID-19 matters, including PPE supply. We’ll continue to do our due diligence on this process. Protecting your health and safety is our number one priority.

We know there will be many questions and concerns on this new process. Your employer has mechanisms in place to provide additional information. We are also here to help. Please email info@rnunl.ca if you have questions.


For more information on the decontamination of N95 respirators:

Health Canada: Reprocessing of N95 Respirators for Healthcare Professionals – Notice

Decontamination and Reuse of N95 Respirators with Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor 2 to Address Worldwide Personal Protective Equipment Shortages During the 3 SARS‐CoV‐2 (COVID‐19) Pandemic