02 July, 2020

Case study: Hydrogen peroxide vapour to reprocess single-use PPE

What did we do?

Health Technology Wales continues to support key decision makers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our researchers have produced multiple, high-level evidence-based reports for COVID-19 health technologies, known as Topic Exploration Reports (TERs).

One of these TERs looked at using hydrogen peroxide vapour to reprocess and decontaminate single-use personal protective equipment (PPE). Although some PPE isn’t approved for routine decontamination, this may be needed during times of shortage and to ensure continued availability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We searched for evidence that reported the levels of residual hydrogen peroxide vapour after decontaminating PPE, in particular for respirators and surgical gowns.

Who with?

The Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory (SMTL) provides medical device testing and technical services regarding medical devices to NHS Wales, enabling NHS Wales to undertake evidence-based purchasing.

They asked us to conduct the literature review and search for the available evidence. SMTL also provided input into the TER we produced.

What were the reactions?

Stakeholders felt that the TER was of high quality and gave a useful summary of the limited evidence that was available at the time.

What did people learn?

The limited evidence that we found suggests that residual hydrogen peroxide levels on respirators following decontamination with hydrogen peroxide vapour are safe. However, there was no evidence on the decontamination of surgical gowns.

Our TER identified that there’s a gap in evidence and there needs to be further research. The limited amount of evidence is partly because the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly developing situation and SARS-CoV-2 is a novel strain of coronavirus.

What difference did this make?

Pete Phillips, Director of SMTL, said: “The HTW report detailed the evidence base regarding residual hydrogen peroxide vapour and identified dissipation studies which confirmed that residual HP on respirators was reduced to safe levels after six hours aeration. This informed the deliberations of the four nations group looking at potential solutions to enable reprocessing of PPE. HTW’s flexible and responsive attitude was much appreciated in undertaking this research.”

The TER was used by SMTL to provide information to a UK group looking to assess various hydrogen peroxide vapour decontamination systems.

The information in this TER has also been shared with key stakeholders in Welsh Government and NHS Wales to inform their decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit our dedicated COVID-19 web page. This is regularly updated with new information about the ways we’re working and services we offer.