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Common Surgical Masks Turn Into Anti-Viral Killer Masks With A Simple Solution

Update Date: Jan 07, 2017 10:22 AM EST

The fear of contracting airborne viruses have prompted people to wear surgical masks or any type of protective masks to prevent being infected. Although the masks protect the wearer from infection, the product itself does not have the capabilities to kill the airborne viruses and are even prone to spreading the diseases. A researcher from Canada has found a way to improve common surgical masks into anti-viral killer masks with a simple solution 

Professor Hyo-Jick Choi of the University of Alberta noticed that nowadays, most people wear surgical masks to prevent being infected by airborne diseases. However, Professor Choi notes that although the wearer is protected from the diseases, the masks itself are prone to spread and further transmit the diseases as it does not have the ability to kill the viruses attached to it.

Realizing this, Professor Choi, along with his team in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering improved the common surgical masks to not only protect the wearer from airborne viruses but also kill the viruses attached to the mask itself. The study was published in the prestigious scientific journal, Scientific Reports.

To develop the anti-viral killer masks, the researchers noted that most airborne viruses are transmitted by aerosol droplets. These droplets are then transmitted when a sick person sneezes or coughs and the droplets with the viruses attach themselves to the masks. In order to improve the common surgical mask, the researchers specifically pinpointed the importance of the mask's filter.

In order to kill the viruses attached to the masks, the researchers also looked at the current types of vaccine available to kill them. They found that most of the vaccines available are in liquid form.

In order to improve the common surgical mask, the researchers needed to create a liquid solution that will effectively stay on the mask filter without destroying it.

While the developing the vaccines to be used on the mask filters, Professor Choi noticed that sugar used during the stabilization process of the vaccine crystalizes when it dries out. When the sugar crystals were formed, it took upon sharp, spiky edges that could physically destroy viruses.

The researchers used the concept of crystallization in order to kill the viruses attached on the masks. In order to transform the common surgical masks into an anti-viral killer mask, the team treated the mask with a simple salt solution. When an airborne virus, in the form of an aerosol droplet, attaches itself to the mask, the salt in the treated mask is absorbed by the droplet. As the droplets evaporate, the salt undergoes crystallization that will physically destroy the virus.

The treated mask shows complete filtration efficiency and was able to completely destroy the viruses attached to it. The now anti-viral killer masks were also affected even under harsh conditions.

Professor Choi and his team are hopeful the anti-viral killer masks will be made available readily to the public and prevent the spread of more airborne diseases. According to Medical Xpress, Professor Choi was awarded a provisional patent for his anti-viral killer masks.

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