RGF collaborated with Jackson Services, one of its contractors, to develop a modified version of the machine that can sterilize up to 30,000 N95 masks per day that protect healthcare workers from the coronavirus.
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A breakthrough discovery using Riviera Beach-based RGF Environmental Group’s food sanitizing equipment could help alleviate the critical shortage of N95 masks and other coronavirus-required personal protective equipment.
RGF collaborated with Jackson Services, one of its contractors, to develop a modified version of the machine that can sterilize up to 30,000 N95 masks per day that protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.
If the process is approved, it could provide a system for sterilizing the masks, allowing them to be safely reused. That could save on costs and relieve stress on the equipment supply chain.
RGF spokeswoman Angela Solland said Thursday that, in early April, Drew Maloney from Capstone Healthcare Lab and Dale Jackson from Jackson Services, both in the Atlanta area, reached out to RGF. Jackson is a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor that sells RGF’s indoor air purification products.
“The lab is testing COVID-19 samples from patients and was facing a shortage of PPE. Our R&D engineers modified a food sanitation tunnel, utilizing UV lights and increasing the generation of ionized hydrogen peroxide and RGF’s proprietary PHI (Photohydroionization) technology to sterilize the masks,” Solland said.
The machine still needs to be tested and approved. A prototype is on its way to RWJBarnabas Health, New Jersey, the state’s largest healthcare system with 11 acute care hospitals.
Once sterilized, the masks, normally recommended for one-time use only, can be reused multiple times. It takes 20 minutes to sterilize 20 to 40 masks using RGF’s system.
“The COVID-19 pandemic places extraordinary demands on healthcare workers and the PPE supply chain,” said Tony Julian, vice president of Business Development at RGF. “We anticipate immediate and sustained demand for this solution at Capstone Healthcare Lab and other facilities that need a safe and proven method to reuse masks.”
RGF’s food sanitation tunnel is a conveyor system designed for the end of a food process line where a final anti-microbial treatment is applied before packaging or grinding meat, for example.
In the case of PPE masks, they are loaded onto conveyors, which slowly move them through the tunnel. The modification to the food sanitization system involves increasing the hydrogen peroxide generation to 3%, a level which is predicted to eliminate COVID-19 and other contagions.
A National Institutes of Health Study released April 15 concluded that exposing contaminated N95 masks to vaporized hydrogen peroxide or ultraviolet light appears to eliminate the COVID-19 virus. That study has not been peer reviewed, however.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have stated that while the agency has not approved any method for decontaminating masks, it does not object to using sterilizers, disinfectants, devices and air purifiers to kill the virus.
Since the pandemic began, RGF has experienced a huge increase in demand for its patented air purification equipment, which shown to kill 99 percent of viruses and keep them from spreading. RGF has not made any medical claims that the equipment, which is installed in HVAC systems, provides a line of defense against the coronavirus.
RGF, located in the Port of Palm Beach’s Enterprise Zone, has ramped up its production and hired about 90 new employees, Solland said.
Ron Fink, CEO and president, founded the company in 1985.
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