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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized an Ohio company to sterilize thousands of respirator masks for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Battelle, a private non-profit research institute, had previously received partial approval by the FDA, which limited how many masks they could clean each day. That decision didn’t sit well with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. He asked the FDA to reconsider and sought support from President Donald Trump.

“I want to thank President Trump for his leadership and Dr. Hahn of the FDA for approving the use of this life-saving technology that Battelle has developed,” DeWine said. “This will not only help Ohio’s healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, but Battelle will also be helping health care workers in hot spots throughout the country including New York and Washington state.”

The lab is capable of sterilizing up to 80,000 masks per system each day. Each mask can also be decontaminated about 20 times without damaging its quality.

Battelle workers clean masks for re-use (Courtesy: Battelle)
Battelle workers clean masks for re-use (Courtesy: Battelle)

Battelle is currently processing N95 respirator masks for OhioHealth and will begin doing the same for three other major systems starting this week.

“I want to thank the FDA team for their professionalism and help in authorizing the use of our technology at this critical moment for our nation,” said Lou Von Thaer, President and CEO of Battelle. “Everybody who has worked on this project shares the same goal of protecting first responders and healthcare workers who are at the front lines of the pandemic.”

Hospital systems and other agencies who wish to learn more about this system are asked to visit or contact Battelle directly at 1-800-201-2011.