N95 Decontamination Team receives the 2020 MSU Extension Emerging Issues/Rapid Response Award

The N95 Decontamination Team was honored for their quick response of working on the MSU Extension Dry Heat Decontamination for N95 Respirators during the annual Fall Extension Conference held virtually on Sept. 29.

These members of the N95 Decontamination Team; Patricia Adams, Tina Conklin, Jeff Dwyer, Laryssa Green, Jason Hofman, Rebecca Hulbert, James Klausner, Jeannine Schweihofer, Megghan Honke Seidel, Srinand Sreevatsan, Mindy Tape, and Madison Walz.

A multi-functional team composed of MSU Extension educators, Food Processing and Innovation Center (FPIC) professionals, communicators, project managers, and educational material designers and editors receive the Emerging Issues/Rapid Response Team Award for their work on MSU Extension Dry Heat Decontamination System for N95 Respirators.

Soon after the coronavirus pandemic came to Michigan in March 2020, MSU Extension director Jeff Dwyer and Tina Conklin began looking at alternative uses for the large spiral oven in the FPIC that was normally used to test production lines for baked goods. Thanks to Tina’s expertise, they quickly determined that the same equipment could be used to decontaminate much needed personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care professionals. Tina joined forces with Jeannine Schweihofer to test models and create protocols with support from Jason Hofman and Madison Walz. James Klausner, chair of mechanical engineering, and Srinand Sreevatsan, associate dean in the College of Veterinary Medicine, dedicated their time, talent, and lab teams to test various parts of the process and create the risk analysis necessary for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is pending. By retooling the commercial spiral oven at FPIC, MSU Extension staff are able to steadily heat the respirators long enough to kill viruses and bacteria.

Hours of intensive work, often in evenings and on weekends, led to the creation of the MSU Extension Dry Heat Decontamination System for N95 Respirators.

Patricia Adams, Laryssa Green, Rebecca Hulbert, Megghan Honke Seidel, and Mindy Tape ensured that protocols were edited, designed, delivered on time, and accessible on the internet. The entire team contributed their unique skills to a process that resulted in a package of data and protocols delivered to the FDA so the system can be replicated worldwide.

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