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Alberta researcher creates reusable mask that uses salt to destroy pathogens

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the University of Alberta was recognized with a Mitacs innovation award for creating a reusable mask that could replace surgical masks worn by healthcare workers, and potentially be used for N-95 respirators.
By: Heather Marie Connors
November 28, 2020
Photo provided by The Canadian Press.
Photo provided by The Canadian Press.

The Canadian not-for-profit organization Mitacs recently presented Ilaria Rubino with an innovation award for her reusable mask invention. Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University, made a reusable, non-washable mask using polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks. She discovered that a mostly salt and water solution used as a coating on the first or middle layer of the mask dissolves COVID-19 droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.

“We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive,” said Rubino. “Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible.”

According to Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, this new technology could help address mask supply issues for healthcare workers who have to dispose of their masks every few hours.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” Dr. Clase said to The Canadian Press.

The salt-coated mask, which can be safely worn and handled multiple times, is expected to become commercially available next year, following regulatory approval.

Source: todayville Edmonton

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