CSU testing personal protective equipment before it's sent out to frontline workers

Posted at 9:52 AM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 11:52:17-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Colorado is ordering millions of masks to keep doctors and nurses safe amid the coronavirus outbreak in the state, but before those masks can be sent out, they must undergo rigorous testing. Part of that testing will be done at Colorado State University. CSU will test both gowns and masks to be sure they are effective.

Last week, Governor Polis announced the state had ordered 2.5 million N95 masks, and thanked the scientists at CSU for their help in making that happen.

"At this point in the crisis, personal protective equipment equals lives," said Gov. Polis.

Ellen Fisher is part of the Colorado State University team testing masks and gowns coming in from around the state and soon, the world.

"We’re doing two specific tests. One test for the particle removal efficiency. The other test for the pressure drop across the material. The reason for that is to ensure that whoever is wearing it will still be able to breathe. It’s often called the breath ability test," Fisher said.

With time being of the essence to get PPE's to those frontline workers, testing times are critical. Fisher said amount of time varies by test, but it typically takes less than a week to determine how effective they are.

"We are trying to turn them around as quickly as we possibly can," said Fisher.

For every order, 20 masks or gowns must pass the tests.

"For each style, type, design, whatever, we will need to be testing 20, and 20 masks have to pass, and then we can move from there," she said.