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Mobile mask disinfection system launches in Hamilton

A mobile N95 mask disinfection unit has been unveiled by SteriRight, a start-up company at Hamilton's McMaster Innovation Park.
A mobile N95 mask disinfection unit has been unveiled by SteriRight, a start-up company at Hamilton's McMaster Innovation Park. Photo by Carlos Tischler/Eyepix/ABACAPRESS.COM

A Hamilton-based start-up company has launched what it describes as the first Health Canada-approved mobile mask disinfection technology in Canada.

SteriRight introduced its mobile cleaning unit on Tuesday morning at McMaster Innovation Park.

Read more: Hamilton board of health approves bylaw making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces

Company CEO Peter Karla says they plan to travel to businesses throughout the region to decontaminate N95 masks, allowing them to be reused up to 10 times each.

Karla says disinfecting the masks will result in a number of benefits, since “we’re keeping them out of the landfill, we’re keeping employees safe and we’re saving companies money because they’re not having to source new masks all the time.”

Read more: Plastic waste from personal protective equipment — the other coronavirus ‘plague’

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He adds that they are confident the demand is there and expect to draw interest from first responders, dentists, optometrists and other health-care providers and food processing companies.

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Karla says they’ve adapted technology that hospitals have in-house and transformed it into a mobile unit to provide widespread access.

He says the process utilizes a hybrid, three-pronged decontamination approach using ultraviolet light (UV-C), ozone and hydrogen peroxide.

Read more: Coronavirus: Canada looking into disinfecting, reusing masks amid shortages, Tam says

The process takes under a minute and the price to clean a mask is about $2.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger predicts that with masks “getting expensive and still hard to get,” the service will be of great benefit throughout the community.

The launch of the mobile service comes after the federal and provincial governments called on manufacturers to step up with solutions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has stated during the pandemic that officials were “looking at multiple entities” that might be able to properly disinfect medical masks because of global demand for the personal protective equipment (PPE).

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SteriRight is a Hamilton-based start-up, operating out of McMaster Innovation Park, and backed by its parent company Bay Area Health Trust.