The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc as the number of cases is increasing. This also had led to a shortage of personal protective equipment putting healthcare workers at risk. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati study common household fabrics that could work best as masks.
They tested the cotton and polyester fabric along with multiple types of silk to determine how effective a barrier each is for repelling water (representing respiratory droplets containing the virus). It was revealed that silk worked better as a moisture barrier than other materials. Cotton traps moisture. Next to a single-use N95 respirator, silk masks worked best. Silk masks are comfortable and breathable. Silk contains natural antiviral and antibacterial properties. Domesticated silk moths eat mulberry leaves and incorporate copper from their diet into silk. Multiple previous studies have established the ability of copper to kill viruses and bacteria upon contact.
The study concluded that silk performs similarly to surgical masks and also has the advantage of reusability. To prolong the life of N95 respirators, many health care workers use surgical masks in combination with it. In such cases using silk masks, along with N95 respirators could be a better strategy to address the acute shortage of quality masks. Using silk masks would allow to address the critical problem of shortage of personal protective equipment and reduce the risk of exposure to the health care providers.
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Ref link: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file id=10.1371/journal.pone.0239531&type=printable