In the emergency dictated by COVID-19, we are unfortunately witnessing a shortage of professional masks ready for use, aimed to protect citizens from further infections.
We refer, above all, to those who are on the front line, doctors and health workers, but also employees of primary activities, who work to guarantee every day the subsistence to those who are forced at home.
Unfortunately, the lack of enough masks to cover the need, is forcing the ministries of health of all countries to seek alternative solutions to buffer the emergency.
We refer of course only to the FFP2 and FFP3 masks, the only ones that are manufactured to provide real protection against external threats.
Also in Italy, ISS studies are underway to determine how many times such devices can be used and how to disinfect them, in case of repeated use.
For the latter case, we do not yet have a universally shared procedure.
The risks in this regard can be mainly two:
- failing in breaking down the viral load of the virus
- compromising the filtering capacity of the mask and or of its accessories
In fact, even the FFP2-FFP3 devices are intended for one use only, by certification.
So how to make masks reusable in case of need?
Various infectious disease specialists have expressed their opinion and some seem to agree that the virus can be killed by subjecting the device to a temperature of at least 56° for at least 30 minutes. Others recommend a temperature of at least 70. This treatment should have no bad effect on the mask filter and/or its accessories. However:
- there is no confirmation that this process can be repeated more than once.
- this is not a complete sterilization: some slags tend to resist.
These processes in fact, referring to devices intended for a single use, cannot be confirmed by the manufacturers.
For the second reason, moreover, the temperature test is unfortunately not possible with an appliance as can be the home oven.
These are therefore procedures intended exclusively for a specialized technician.
Many hospitals have already turned to FDM for the supply of equipment for the disinfestation and drying process of FFP2 and FFP3 masks, thanks to the possibility of temperature control that they allow.
FDM continues to work to the maximum of its possibilities, also in this particular period, to provide help and support to scientific and industrial research.