a white n95 mask

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been in short supply throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the biggest shortage has been of the N95 masks, which healthcare professionals use to keep themselves and others healthy while dealing with sick patients. Unfortunately, many doctors, nurses and others employed at healthcare facilities have had to wear the same N95 mask for several shifts even though it's considered dangerous to wear one of these masks more than once. Hoping to help the issue of short PPE supply and workers wearing potentially dangerous equipment, a group of University Washington researchers are exploring methods that would correctly disinfect masks so that they could be re-worn, reports The Daily.

Options for decontaminating masks already exist, including methods that use ultraviolet light or vaporized hydrogen peroxide. However, this option isn't ideal because the technology is simply hard to come by. Even when a healthcare facility can get ahold of technology that decontaminates PPE using vaporized hydrogen peroxide or UV light, infection can still occur when masks are removed, Thomas Lendvay, an associate professor of urology and pediatric urologist at Seattle Children's Hospital tells The Daily, a newspaper operated by University of Washington students.

So instead of using existing methods that have a few important faults, Lendvay and the team of researchers are trying to figure out how methlyene blue could be used to destroy viruses. Methylene blue is a type of dye that kills bacteria and virus when introduced to light. Best of all, the there's an abundance of the dye and the solution is inexpensive.

Click here to read the rest of The Daily's story.