New Reusable N95 Masks Could Reduce Coronavirus Medical Waste, Correct PPE Shortage

N-95 masks are synonymous with the current conundrum of the Covid 19 pandemic, and are a necessity wearable for normal human beings, affected people who are Covid 19 patients as well as the health workers who are fighting a relentless, tireless battle to treat, prevent, control and contain the evil contagion.

These N-95 masks are primarily designed for single use, but the medical professionals and custodians, have been compelled to use them repeatedly and the disposable masks have been over used again and again, due to the acute shortage, fallacy of logistics and failed contingency planning by the governments to reach out to these cohort of life saviours with fresh and new ones.

To help combat the shortage, a team of researchers, who, at present day are almost angels in disguise, have invented reusable, sterilizable alternate to the N-95 mask, by the name of iMASC. To build the iMASC system, Dr. Traverso and his colleagues, including co-lead authors James Byrne, MD, PhD, and Adam Wentworth, MS, worked closely with bioengineers and clinical experts at the Brigham and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The iMASC (short for Injection Moulded Autoclavable, Scalable, Conformable) was developed by a team of Cambridge-based researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and their findings were published in a study in British Medical Journal Open.

The team’s feasibility study used an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-approved testing method to evaluate the iMASC’s fit on physicians, nurses and technicians at the Brigham. Healthcare workers with facial hair were excluded from enrolment. All participants passed their fit test and could successfully replace the filter into the mask, resulting in a 100 percent success rate for both fit testing and filter exchange. Participants scored the iMASC breathability as “excellent” (9 participants), “good” (10 participants) or “fair” (1 participant).

It is estimated by researchers that the health professionals can use this iMASC up-to 100 times and they would be carrying a price tag of $15 when they hit the market. The masks are made of durable silicon rubber and can be sterilized with ease. The masks will need about one or a couple of filters, which can be changed, as often as its needed to replace with the new ones, hence the only thing to be disposed will be the filter. With this innovative design, the filters can be popped in and thrown away after use, and therefore it substantially reduces the disposal and piling of critical medical and PPE waste.

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