By April Morton

(CBS DETROIT) – Experts say N95 masks are more effective in protecting against Covid-19. The masks are mainly worn by healthcare workers who are on the frontlines fighting against the virus.

In order to assure their safety, researchers at Henry Ford Health and U of M Ann Arbor have come up with a way to decontaminate the masks by killing the virus on its surface.

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“We took several masks through this process applied live virus to them as a simulation for what a mask would experience out in the field and then put it in the device, sterilized it and then tried to extract live virus from it and propagate that,” said Dr. Jonathan Sexton, Ph.D/Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine U-M.

Sexton says, after months of research in the university’s lab, they were able to successfully kill covid-19 on some N95 masks using ultraviolet-c light. The study began at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, when the pandemic first hit the city.

“Back in March it was a pretty rough time for all of us, the level of anxiety, I dare say I feel as collectively as a culture and different systems we were near panic,” said Dr.David Ozog M.D/ HFH chair of Dermatology.

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Ozog says at the time Henry Ford Hospital was slammed with Covid-19 cases and experiencing a PPE shortage. He says if there’s ever a time when this is again an issue, it’s crucial that N95 masks are able to be reused safely, and after teaming up with the u of m labs, the study shows they can be.

“What we found is with certain types of Masks it was absolutely effective,” said Sexton.

Doctors note that this first of its kind study is not effective on all types of N95 masks and will only be used if there’s another masks shortage with healthcare workers.

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April Morton