In the pandemic, people wear face masks to respect and protect others — not merely to protect themselves, says a team of Northwestern University researchers.
With this in mind, the researchers developed a new concept for a mask that aims to make the wearer less infectious. The central idea, which received support from the National Science Foundation through a RAPID grant, is to modify mask fabrics with anti-viral chemicals that can sanitize exhaled, escaped respiratory droplets.
By simulating inhalation, exhalation, coughs and sneezes in the laboratory, the researchers found that non-woven fabrics used in most masks work well to demonstrate the concept. A lint-free wipe with just 19% fiber density, for example, sanitized up to 82% of escaped respiratory droplets by volume. Such fabrics do not make breathing more difficult, and the on-mask chemicals did not detach during simulated inhalation experiments.
The research will be published on Oct. 29 in