IIT Ropar designs doffing unit’ to keep PPEs under sterile conditions

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Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar have designed a doffing unit’ to enable health workers to remove their personal protective gear under sterile conditions.

It was conceptualised after the Centre’s Special Task Force on COVID-19 desired from all Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other institutions to design a doffing unit for the medical workers.

According to experts, personal protection equipment (PPEs) like masks, gloves and gowns, worn by doctors, nurses and other health workers have to be removed in a specified way. Any mistake in wearing or removing them could expose the health workers to pathogens.

Therefore, it is imperative to maintain sterile conditions in doffing station, the place where health care professionals remove their PPE at the end of duty, they said.

A team of researchers at IIT Ropar designed a special doffing unit which is separated from the donning or clean room, a release issued by the institute said.

The doffing unit designed by us has a negative pressure room and Ultra-violet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) so that the place (where PPEs are removed) remains decontaminated, Khushboo Rakha, Assistant Professor, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Ropar said.

Such a unit involves the use of three well established and documented germicidal technologies –chemical disinfectants, negative pressure rooms and Ultra-violet Germicidal Irradiation, the researchers said.

The unit begins with a disinfection tunnel using a safe and effective disinfectant recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), they said.

After doffing or removal of PPE (through prescribed procedure), the healthcare workers should place the PPE in one of the two chutes for reuse or proper disposal.

Both the chutes will be attached with UV-C germicidal tubes for disinfection before further removal. The unit will be maintaining a negative pressure outlet which will significantly lower the risk of virus transmission through air, said a release issued by IIT Ropar.

UV-C type germicidal bulbs or tubes will be installed in the entire space to disinfect the room after every doffing session or alternatively every two to three hours, it said.

Dhiraj Mahajan, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Naresh Rakha, Senior Scientific Officer are the other members of the team behind the design.

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