NASA, University Hospitals Join Forces in Response to COVID-19

WASHINGTON : New methods and technologies for decontaminating personal protective equipment (PPE) for aerospace applications and for safeguarding the health of workers caring for patients with coronavirus (COVID-19) has been initiated by NASA’s Glenn Research Center and University Hospitals in Cleveland. 

An inventive team of researchers recently developed and tested two new approaches that could enable health care professionals to sanitize masks on-site and safely reuse them. These approaches also may be useful to the aerospace community when traditional sterilization techniques might not be available.


“NASA strives to ensure the technology we develop for space exploration and aeronautics is broadly available to benefit the public and the nation,” said Glenn Center Director Marla Pérez-Davis, Ph.D. “If our technology can lend a hand in overcoming this crisis, we will do whatever we can to put it in the hands of those who need it.”

“While we currently have sufficient PPE on hand to care for the patients we have in our facilities today, we need to proactively and prudently plan for potential future needs,” said Dr. Daniel I. Simon, chief clinical and scientific officer at University Hospitals and president of UH Cleveland Medical Center. “This includes factoring in the potential for supply chain shortages due to COVID-19 surges in other states while also taking into account our need to restart non-emergent and elective services, which requires being mindful about current usage and putting in place go-forward conservation strategies. The opportunity to pool resources and quickly bring about PPE sterilization solutions for the benefit of our caregivers is truly remarkable.” 

Results of tests on both methods – atomic oxygen and peracetic acid – are promising. The atomic oxygen decontamination method currently is being evaluated and early results are favorable. The peracetic acid method has been proven to work for five cycles of decontamination, and the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing this method for an emergency use authorization.

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