How did MIT researches create a reusable N95 mask?

An N95 mask is nowadays considered a very useful personal protective equipment (PPE) not just in the construction and mining industry but also in the medical field. An N95 mask is a type of disposable mask that is tested and regulated by the United  States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The N95 mask can filter 95% for airborne particles, especially the tiny viral particles like the coronavirus. 

The N95 mask is also widely used by dental, surgical, and other health workers all over the world. This type of disposable mask, the N95 mask, provides full protection to the wearer against hazardous elements in the environment. 

The N95 mask is considered an important protective device by the Americans. NIOSH has approved several companies in the US to manufacture the N95 mask. This type of protective mask is required to meet a specific fit requirement. 

The Reusable N95 Mask invented by MIT researchers

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for the N95 mask has become significantly higher compared to the past year’s demand. Even if N95 mask manufacturers are increasing their production, the demand for the medical industry is still not met. 

Since the demand for the N95 mask is too high, US authorities are encouraging the public to wear other types of disposable face masks, like cloth masks. By doing this, the health and medical workers will be given priority to the use of N95 masks or N95 respirators.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued guidance on how to extend the use of the N95 mask. Some hospitals are also using a few effective decontamination processes to be able to reuse the N95 mask a few times. 

Researchers at MIT along with the Brigham and Women's Hospital have created a new face mask that is designed to stop viral particles as effectively as the commonly-used N95 mask. But, unlike the popular N95 mask, this newly designed face mask is made to be reusable and can be sterilized easily. 

The new N95 mask created by the MIT researchers is made from silicone rubber that is extremely durable. This material can easily be made using injection molding, the same type of injection molding used in most factories in the US and all over the world. The new mask also contains an N95 mask filter but it requires less N95 filter as compared to the traditional N95 mask.

The traditional N95 mask can filter out tiny particles but the N95 mask is not reusable. It is designed for single use. It is just recently when hospitals are reusing them because of the low supply of the N95 mask.

The recent invention of the MIT researchers allows users to easily sterilize the mask for reuse. Not just a few times but users could reuse the said mask many times. 

The new face mask is designed following the shape of the 1860 N95 mask from 3M. The researchers tested the sterilization methods on the new silicon mask and they found out that the new N95 mask remains undamaged. Some of the methods they used include putting them in an oven, running them through a steam sterilizer, and soaking them in isopropyl alcohol and bleach. 

The researchers also conducted a fit test on the new N95 mask. They've asked 20 health care workers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to put on the new N95 mask. They were asked to do a series of movements while wearing the new N95 mask and see if the mask stays in place. A nebulized sugar solution is sprayed in the room, if the participant can smell it, then the new N95 mask is not properly fitted.

The result was significantly impressive. All 20 participants passed the fit and comfort test and they reported that they were able to wear and remove the new N95 mask easily. The participants also gave the new N95 mask high fit and breathability ratings. 

The research and the invention of the new N95 mask were funded, in part, by the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Mavis Lopater Psychosocial Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, E-Ink Corporation, and Gilead Science.

Counterfeit N95 Mask

The demand for N95 masks online is very high. Nowadays, people prefer to buy an N95 mask online but they are not really aware that some N95 disposable face masks are not genuine. Thus, people are encouraged only to buy an N95 mask from a trusted shop. When buying an N95 mask for sale or N95 mask in stock, people must make sure that the mask contains the NIOSH and N95 markings. 

3M is one of the companies approved by NIOSH to manufacture N95 masks. A NIOSH-approved 3M N95 mask is lightweight and comfortable to wear. The N95 mask also comes with an adjustable strap and nose clip for proper fitting. 

Recently, 3M has filed a lot of lawsuits against sellers who are selling overpriced, damaged, and fraudulent N95 respirators. The company's effort to stop the production and selling of fake N95 masks has been positive. They’ve taken thousands of fake sellers online as well as thousands of deceptive social media posts about the N95 mask.

In recent times where the entire world is being challenged by the coronavirus, face masks are considered very important. But aside from wearing an N95 mask or other disposable masks, people should also practice social distancing and boost their immune system to fight coronavirus. It is very important to shield yourself, your family, and kids against the virus that has been affecting the United States and the other countries around the world.

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