As governments around the world struggle to build up a supply of N95 masks for healthcare workers—navigating price gouging, counterfeit respirators, scammers, and fierce competition from other governments—some hospitals are still taking care of COVID-19 patients without adequate supplies, and reusing masks that were designed to be disposable. advertisement A new design could make N95 masks safely reusable. In a new study, engineers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia created a new membrane that can be added to the front of an N95 mask and then replaced while the rest of the mask is used repeatedly. (The engineers don’t specify how the membrane is attached.) The filter, which can be made either from polymer or paper, is covered with nano-size holes that also make the mask more effective. While an N95 mask can filter out droplets of saliva when someone coughs or talks, it can’t fully filter out the virus if the virus is “aerosolized,” or hanging in the air by itself in much smaller particles. But the holes in the new membrane are so small that these tiny particles can’t pass through. The material could also be modified with a hydrophobic coating that makes… Read full this story
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