SASKATOON -- Experts in Saskatoon are decontaminating N95 masks so they can be reused.

“We are ready as early as next week to provide this as a back-up if needed,” Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre Director Dr. Volker Gerdts said in a news release.

VIDO-InterVac will use a decontamination procedure called vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) sterilization - a procedure VIDO-InterVac routinely uses to decontaminate its rooms and equipment in its containment Level 3 facility.

The N95 respirator masks will be decontaminated by VHP to provide an emergency N95 back-up supply for hospitals if the need arises during the pandemic, according to the release.

This week, VIDO-InterVac successfully tested the decontamination procedure on several dozen used N95 respirator masks from the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Worn by health care workers and paramedics, N95 respirators are form-fitting masks designed to filter out pathogens. VIDO-InterVac could, if needed, decontaminate thousands of masks per week, Gerdts said.

The possibility of using the same process to decontaminate other used personal protective equipment may also be explored, he said.