Packaging giant AptarGroup Inc. has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve a disinfection process for much-needed N95 masks.
N95 masks are needed by health care personnel during the COVID-19 outbreak, but are in short supply as global supply chains have been overwhelmed by demand. Crystal Lake, Ill.-based Aptar is asking for emergency use authorization for its disinfecting process.
In the process, the N95 mask and a small strip of Aptar's ActivShield product are placed inside any one-gallon plastic bag, officials said in a news release. The strip releases a controlled amount of chlorine dioxide inside the sealed bag to decontaminate the N95 mask.
The process takes three hours until the mask is ready to wear again. It can be performed on-site at local hospitals where the mask is being used, officials said.
Aptar has submitted its safety and effectiveness data to the FDA for review. The company is working to provide approximately 4 million ActivShield strips per week and wants to expand its production capacity with the intent to deliver 10 million per week by the end of April.
"We are extremely encouraged by the promising data generated so far and are eager to deliver this technology to the front line and support the fight against the pandemic," Aptar CSP Technologies President John Belfance said in the release.
If approved, ActivShield will immediately become available for use. Chlorine dioxide has been widely used as a disinfectant in different industries, including drinking water treatment and medical equipment, officials said.
"Aptar's technology provides a unique, simple, and effective way to help solve the critical problem of PPE shortages we're currently facing," President and CEO Stephan Tanda said.
"This could enable health care workers to retain and disinfect their own facemask, helping to maintain continued proper fit to their face," he added.
Aptar makes caps, pumps and closures for medical, personal care, beauty, food and beverage and other markets. The firm employs 14,000 worldwide and posted sales of almost $2.9 billion in 2019.
In Plastics News' most recent ranking of North American injection molders, Aptar placed No. 5 with annual injection molding sales estimated at $890 million.