Combating COVID-19: Scientists develop self-disinfecting, biodegradable face masks

Unprecedented times calls for active actions to be taken timely. With the surge in cases of the Covid-19 infections in India, the scientific community took steps to combat this challenge. Recently, in this row, a team of Indian scientists have developed a self-disinfecting antiviral face mask to combat the deadly virus. A Copper-based Nanoparticle-coated Antiviral Face mask exhibits high performance against the COVID-19 virus as well as several other viral and bacterial infections. It is worth noting that these masks are biodegradable, highly breathable and washable.


About the self-disinfecting antiviral face mask:


Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre developed copper-based nanoparticles of around 20 nanometres by a Flame Spray Pyrolysis (FSP) processing facility. Understanding the process that involves in the conversion of solution precursors into nanopowders, high temperature pyrolytic decomposition is essential. A uniform layer of this nano-coating on the cotton fabric with good adhesion was achieved using a suitable binder.


It is pertinent to mention that the coated fabric exhibited an efficacy of more than 99.9% against infectious virus and bacterias. CSIR-CCMB tested the efficacy of this fabric against SARS-CoV-2 for their disinfection properties and reported 99.9% disinfection. It is also stated that over our regular mask, a single layer mask is useful as a protective antiviral outer mask.


The present-day face masks only retain the viruses by filtering and do not kill them and hence, are prone to transmission if the masks are not properly worn or disposed of. In order to reduce COVID-19 transmission in the community, wearing these self-disinfecting cloth masks provides a pragmatic solution.


Additionally, a huge concern is expressed around the globe regarding the disposal of used masks. Most of the conventional masks effective against COVID-19 are for single-use and are not biodegradable, creating and causing serious environmental concerns and waste-management issues. The present antiviral mask which is made from cotton fabric that is biodegradable would eliminate that problem too besides making it highly breathable and washable.


Realising the need:


With the science around the use of masks to impede transmission is advancing rapidly, the Indian market is selling expensive masks that neither exhibit antiviral or antibacterial properties. Hence, it is very difficult to control the transmission by wearing the conventional mask particularly in densely populated places where there are chances of high virus load. In the present scenario, where mutations in coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic are fast emerging, it is an urgent necessity to develop a low-cost antiviral mask.


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