by Dina Kupfers

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An N95 mask sterilization unit has been deployed in Northern California.

Governor Newsom announced last week Battelle, a non-profit based out of Columbus, Ohio, would be supplying northern and southern California with their Critical Care Decontamination System.  The system can sterilize as many as 80,000 used N95 respirators a day.

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One unit is now up and running in Burbank and the other is in Fremont in the Bay Area.

Justin Sanchez, a Tech Fellow for Life Sciences at Battelle Memorial Institue, explained how the process works.

“Traditional hospitals, in their traditional way that they use masks, most of the workers, they put it on, when they’re done with it they put it in the garbage cans right? And we’re not doing that anymore,” Sanchez said. “So what first happens is we have to establish a protocol with the hospitals to save and collect the masks, they’re marked and then they’re bagged up, barcoded and transferred from the hospital to this facility.”

Once the masks arrive, they get unpacked and placed in big shipping containers. Then they are exposed to vapor-phased hydrogen peroxide.

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“Basically, as those masks are hanging in this container it uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide it sits in there for about 2.5 hours,” Sanchez said.

Once they’re sterilized, the masks sit for another 2.5 hours to make sure there is no trace of the hydrogen peroxide left. The masks are then marked, re-bagged and shipped back to the hospital they came from.

Each mask can be sterilized up to 20 times.

The nonprofit thinking *inside-the-box* to keep our frontline workers safe.

“In a time of need, to see a nonprofit come together with the federal government deployed at this speed and this magnitude and to help those people that need it the most, it’s really an amazing thing,” Sanchez said.

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Under a contract with the federal government, the cost of decontaminating N95 respirator masks will be funded up to $400 million across 60 deployment sites.