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Kansas Crime Lab Uses Evidence Drying Cabinets to - Decontaminate N95 Masks

Posted: Apr 8th, 2020 - 2:12 pm

The evidence drying cabinets at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory are putting in overtime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rather than the typical evidentiary clothing and personal belongings that need to be dried without cross contamination, scientists at the crime lab have adapted a method to use the cabinets to decontaminate N95 masks for front-line workers. This allows the masks to be safety used multiple times—a critical aspect given the shortage of N95 masks worldwide.

“Our entire team is looking for unique solutions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sheriff Cal Hayden said in a video posted on Facebook. “We know supplies are limited and the Sherriff’s Office is doing what we can to make sure supplies are being used in the most efficient manner.”

The UV lights inside evidence drying cabinets, like the Labconco ones in use at the Johnson County crime lab, can decontaminate up to 10 masks at one time in 60 minutes or less.

The Sheriff’s department said is has “re-utilized” three cabinets formerly found within the crime lab, placing them at various fire departments and EMS buildings throughout the county for immediate use. Additionally, Amy Santoro, a crime scene investigator with the crime lab, told KMBC the scientists are currently building a DIY cabinet with tin foil and UV lights. The larger box is intended to hold up to 100 masks at a time.

Scientists across the country have been forced to think outside the box during the pandemic. Last month, for example, researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center began using UV light towers to irradiate single-use masks. Rather than an evidence drying cabinet, researchers at the medical center hung wire across the length of a hospital room that is equipped with two UV light towers. The masks are decontaminated once the lights are turned on, and then returned to the original owners for reuse.

"The shortage has forced us to be innovative," said John Lowe, University of Nebraska Medical Center assistant vice chancellor for inter-professional health security training and education. "While these items weren’t meant to be used more than once, this is a 100% safe way to extend their useful life. Other major hospital systems in the U.S. have also started to implement this method for the same reason we are."

LINK/URL: Kansas Crime Lab Uses Evidence Drying Cabinets to


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