ARA Research to Mitigate a Shortage of Respiratory Protection Devices During Public Health Emergencies


ARA Research to Mitigate a Shortage of Respiratory Protection DevicesOne of the greatest concerns facing health care workers on the front lines of infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is a shortage of personal protective equipment, including respiratory protection devices.

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA), recently completed a Study for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where we developed and evaluated methods for decontamination and reuse of respiratory protection devices (RPDs) in an effort to mitigate a shortage during a public health emergency. A two-phase approach was implemented:

  1. Optimize UV decontamination of single-use N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators
  2. Optimize reprocessing of reusable respirators – Half-Mask Elastomeric Respirators (HMERs) and Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs)

Overall, the research performed as part of this effort generated significant data pertaining to the feasibility of reprocessing existing RPDs for reuse as a means to mitigate a potential shortage resulting from a public health emergency.

Read the full report for conclusions and recommendations from the two approaches studied as part of this effort to help mitigate a potential N95 shortage:

ARA has also conducted a field study that sought to understand healthcare workers' perspectives and potential logistics issues related to implementation of UVDR methods for FFRs in hospitals during a influenza pandemic. 

“ARA attention to healthcare workers’ needs ensures that technologies to decontaminate filtering facepiece respirators not only work well in the lab, but also work well for them in practice,” said lead author Christopher Nemeth.

ARA is grateful to the funding agencies that have supported our research over the past decade. These agencies showed great insight into the value of preparedness research at a time when it was hard to justify. It is easy now to see the value of the funds that were invested in preparedness.

“ARA has long been on the frontlines of science and engineering research that helps make our world a safer place, and we are prepared to help meet this challenge in any way we can. Although we are facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of COVID-19, we believe we will emerge stronger than before by addressing the outbreak together.” - ARA PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR BRIAN HEIMBUCH

For more information, contact:
Brian Heimbuch, Principal Investigator
Applied Research Associates Engineering Sciences Division

About Applied Research Associates, Inc.
Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) was founded in 1979, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to offer science and engineering research to solve problems of national importance. ARA delivers leading-edge products and solutions for national defense, energy, homeland security, aerospace, healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. With over 1,400 employee-owners at locations in the U.S. and Canada, ARA offers a broad range of technical expertise in defense technologies, civil engineering, computer software and simulation, systems analysis, biomedical engineering, environmental technologies, and blast testing and measurement.