Xinhua (China): will you wear reusable masks?

Prevention and control of epidemic, a new coronavirus pneumonia have become the norm, and medical masks have become a standard attribute of everyday life. But still, questions arise regarding masks: for example, when to wear and when to remove the mask, how to properly store them, and most importantly — is it possible to replace disposable masks reusable?

In recent years, many Chinese research organizations and enterprises are developing a reusable mask. How effective is their protection? If they price? Are for this product on the market with approval? Our reporter conducted a small investigation.

Reusable masks went on sale, and the price is much higher than the disposable masks of the twhat are the same type

Recently appeared on the market many types of masks for repeated use.

Experts say the industry, the mask consists of three layers: the inner and outer layers are made of nonwoven materials, and the middle layer is a nonwoven polypropylene fabric, which is called the “heart” of the mask or membrane. Three-layer fabric plays a role of protection against dust and viruses due to the physical barrier and electrostatic attraction. High temperature, alcohol, radiation and other methods of disinfection can destroy the internal structure of a nonwoven polypropylene fabric, which will lead to loss of the filtering effect, therefore, the conventional mask cannot be reused.

The key to developing reusable masks — find bacteriostatic materials or filter materials that can resist traditional methods of sterilization.

The head of the company in Guangzhou yuan Jianhua said that his company uses non-woven materials treated with organosilanes, as the internal and external layers of masks to protect from viruses and bacteria. This mask can be effectively used for 7 days continuously. Another product uses a membrane of polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), which can be disinfected by sterilization in boiling water, washing or cleansing with a spray of rubbing alcohol, without degrading the filtering effect, and this mask can be used longer than 7 days.

In the presentation of the product “reusable nanomask” using material based on polytetrafluoroethylene indicated that the efficiency of filtration while using a Teflon mask with a nanomembrane filter can reach more than 96%, and the life of this mask is “longer” than a traditional mask made of polypropylene. It can withstand disinfection methods such as sterilization in boiling water and spraying rubbing alcohol. “If the mask is worn correctly and has no damage, it can be used again after disinfection”.

Data from public sources suggests that firms in Shanghai and Beijing announced the development of reusable masks using graphene and nanomaterials.

According to reports, the price of the masks are reusable will be higher than the disposable masks of the same type. For example, the price of package of ten reusable nanomask is 60 yuan, an average of 6 yuan per mask.

Currently, some products have not yet received medical certificates and are sold only in supermarkets and e-Commerce platforms. Reporter conducted a search in some online stores and found the price for a reusable mask varies from four to five yuan to tens of yuan.

Is the mask reusable reliable?

During the investigation, our reporter found that the quality of these reusable masks were different. The same can be said about the filtration efficiency.

Test report reusable mask conducted by the Inspectorate for quality control of medical equipment and instruments in Guangdong province showed that after three days of use, some samples still showed more than 95% efficiency antibacterial filter. The report, issued by OOO “Guangzhou company in inspection, testing and certification” States that the efficiency of filter masks reusable produced by a specific company, “conform to” ten times after disinfection.

There are also some masks that require improvement from the point of view of stability and maturity of the technology. For example, when checking the on-site Inspection for quality control of medical equipment and instruments in Guangdong province revealed that, if it is easy to RUB some filter materials, they immediately fall off, moreover, the breathability of such masks is very mediocre — after prolonged wearing they getting hard to breathe. The test report also showed that the effectiveness of bacterial filtration of some samples down to 82% after a few days of use.

Our reporters found that many consumers doubt the effectiveness of the protection of these reusable masks. Mr. Wang, a resident of Guangzhou, said: “I Have absolutely no confidence in whether a reusable mask to demonstrate the effectiveness claimed by the manufacturer and if it meets the General standards of individual sanitation”.

Among the assessments of multiple-nanomask users on the e-Commerce platform reporters found that many consumers say that the ability to re-use significantly reduced their volume using masks. Some users in the comments suggested the use of masks are reusable after washing in hot water, but they have no confidence in the effectiveness of the protection of nanomask from viruses and bacteria. A lot more buyers believe that the mask is too expensive.

What are the prospects of reusable masks?

On the background of normalization of the epidemiological situation, demand for masks in the Chinese market will continue to remain high.

Some experts in the industry believe that in the long term, the dependence of the Chinese population from disposable masks will become unstable, so it is imperative now to increase the frequency of use of one mask.

Nevertheless, the head of the Department of industrial development, the Bureau of industry and information technology in Guangzhou, said that the new products entering the market require a long-term test of practical application and large capital investments. The price is relatively high, and the initial recognition of the small market, and this objective leads to such problems as the gap of production and use, as well as constraints in the promotion and use of innovative products.

With the increase in the supply of masks in China prices on disposable masks continue to decline, consumer demand for the masks are reusable also fell, which led to a weak motivation of enterprises for research and development.

Juan Minicsu, head of the laboratory of the Inspectorate for quality control of medical equipment and instruments in Guangdong province, has proposed to increase support for research and development in the field of reusable masks, and said that should encourage relevant research institutions and enterprises to technological breakthroughs to improve product quality while reducing product prices to meet consumer demand. In addition, the separation of quality control as soon as possible to introduce appropriate standards for reusable masks that consumers didn’t have to worry about the quality.

A number of respondents industry believes that to reduce pollution of the environment used masks need to ensure a close link with the ongoing work on sorting waste to used masks properly disposed of.