News & Events

Nurses Have Right to Refuse or Consent to Decontaminated COVID-19 Masks, Processes Should Be Halted, MNA Declares in New Position Statement

CANTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Nurses Association has issued a new position statement declaring that nurses and healthcare professionals statewide have the right to consent to or refuse a decontaminated COVID-19 mask and that these processes should be halted because there are no decontamination methods that have been proven safe and effective.

“The lack of reliable information on these practices, as well as the potential safety risks of these decontamination procedures pose risks to the health and safety of health care workers, as well as the general public at large require that these practices be halted,” reads the MNA position statement.

“Every nurse and healthcare professional on the front lines of this pandemic should have a new N95 mask to protect themselves as they provide safe patient care,” said RN and MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams. “Government agencies and healthcare facilities have lowered their standards during this outbreak, including by using decontamination methods that are not supported by peer-reviewed studies, putting the health and safety of frontline healthcare workers at risk.”

In preparing the position statement, the MNA reviewed and evaluated the limited available information available on decontamination of masks used in COVID-19 care, including the lack of any peer-reviewed evidence- based research on decontamination methods for N95 facepiece respirators that are currently being utilized across Massachusetts.

The MNA’s conclusion aligns with the position of National Nurses United, which has declared that no method that is presently available for the decontamination of N95 filtering facepiece respirators is both safe and effective. NNU’s position is based upon the failure of these methods to meet the following three criteria:

  • It must effectively inactivate the pathogen.
  • It must not degrade the performance of the respirator including filtration, structural integrity, and face seal.
  • It must not introduce an additional hazard to the worker wearing the respirator.

The position statement outlines several rights that nurses and healthcare professionals have regarding these decontamination methods, and how to exercise those rights. The full statement can be read at

  1. The right to informed consent.
  2. The right to refusal.
  3. The right to report adverse effects. (FDA reporting form:
  4. The right to a safe work environment.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic reuse of personal protective equipment was NEVER recommended or considered as a safe practice,” the statement read. “In fact, one-time utilization was the ONLY agreed upon, evidence-based standard. The MNA stands with you and will continue to fight for your health and safety today and tomorrow.”

Read the April 27, 2020 MNA letter to Gov. Charlie Baker and more information at

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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.