Personal protective equipment is essential for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus. But it's been in short supply.
Now one local business is trying to help by simply cleaning it so it can be used again. Rolf Schlake and his company, Applied Separations, have called the Lehigh Valley home for more than 30 years. Now, they're doing their part to help those on the front line who are in desperate need of PPE.
"We are thinking about this and said perhaps we can do something with ours," Schlake said. The company makes components for DNA tests, which requires a total sterile environment and PPE.
"We cannot reuse them at all," Schlake said. So, they thought maybe they could donate them.
"They are very very clean and the only potential contamination would be from the actual person that was in them. So what we wound up doing put them in ovens, laboratory ovens," Schalke said.
At 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes, low enough to not destroy the PPE, but hot enough to kill the virus.
"The World Health Organization says that if you bring the temperature up to about 135 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes you will destroy coronavirus," Schlake said. "We don't want to suggest they are sterile, there's a whole protocol that they go through to make sure that something is sterile."
They're cleaning around 40 to 50 sets of PPE a day, and giving them away for free.
"We have given them to EMT people, we've given to the police departments, we have given them to the hospital, we have given them to cleaning establishments," Schlake said.
The business is hoping to inspire similar companies to do the same.
"I would like nothing better than to help the community in this particular fashion."