First Look: New system in Adams County set to clean up to 80,000 masks a day

Coronavirus

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — From the outside, the Battelle Decontamination System looks like nothing more than a series of shipping containers. 

But inside sits technology that could be a game changer for Colorado hospitals, where personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are dwindling. 

The system, now up and running at the Adams County Fairgrounds, is capable of cleaning up to 80,000 N-95 masks every single day. 

“Anything we can do to increase the supply of N-95 masks, is a step in the right direction,” says Lee DePalo. 

DePalo is the FEMA Region 8 Administrator, which partnered with U.S. Health and Human Services to provide the system to Colorado. 

Colorado will be one of five states to receive two systems. One is already set up in Adams County, with a second set to be built in Montrose County in the coming weeks. 

“They put the mask in there, then they use their hydrogen peroxide system,” DePalo says. “Then they defuse the gas, they dry, and they take them out the other end.”

The company that makes the containers, Battelle, says each load takes about three hours to clean. That means hospitals could theoretically drop off one shipment one day, and pick it up the next day. 

“It’s almost like sending it to a dry cleaner,” says DePalo. 

Each mask can be re-sanitized about 20 times before it has to be discarded, according to Battelle. 

The facility will be free for hospitals across the state, with hospitals in Wyoming and Utah expected to use the systems as well. 

Battelle and FEMA plan on holding a media availability to discuss the systems further on Friday. 

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