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New mask data for those who care to know

4 mins read

82% of people believe masks help protect against COVID-19 

Good news—the majority of people know that masks significantly reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19. The CDC has recommended masks since the beginning of the pandemic, citing a 70% reduced risk in transmission from mask wearing. Even with vaccines widely available today, masks are still a critical and inexpensive tool in the fight against the pandemic. 

64.2% believe cloth masks provide as much protection as surgical disposable masks 

Unfortunately, studies show this isn’t the case: surgical disposable masks provide more filtration and a better fit than cloth masks, making them a superior choice to cloth. Studies have proven that reuse, moisture retention and poor filtration in cloth masks could increase wearers’ risk of infection. 

77% of people continue to wear a mask when out in public 

This is common sense. Use yours! Masks are part of our daily lives now; what you wear should keep you safe and protected, while allowing you to express your personal style. 

Flu season is here! 78% of people will increase mask use 

This is good news for everyone. Scientific American reported that the nation saw about 700 death cases related to the flu last year, while the CDC estimates there were approximately 22,000 U.S. deaths in 2019. Medical experts contribute this small success to mask wearing and social distancing. 

Trusted protection is the primary factor affecting a decision to purchase 

This new data is from a 2021 survey conducted by DemeTECH https://demetech.us a maker of surgical and N95 masks. 

Rice University lab details conditions to decontaminate disposable masks 

Rice engineers, a grad student and collaborators at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston, shows masks can be decontaminated and reused multiple times before degrading. 

Here’s the recipe to decontaminate a disposable facemask: Heat it at 160 degrees Fahrenheit in an oven for five minutes. You can use your own oven. 

Best of all, heating to 70 degrees Celsius (approximately 160 F) killed more than 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses they tested, meeting FDA guidelines for decontamination. That shows promise for adapting the protocol to handle future outbreaks where personal protective equipment (PPE) is at a premium. 

The research is detailed in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. 

It’s important to ensure the mask heats through. Heating to 70 C (approximately 160 F) should work equally well for cloth masks, as long as all layers reach the required temperature for five full minutes. 

Note that if the heat is too high, the polymer fibers that make up most masks will melt. 

But where the decontamination protocol does work, it works very well. If you can get the entire mass to heat up to the proper temperature, 70 degrees C (approximately 160 F), then you will still inactivate the viruses within five minutes. Even heating masks to the proper temperature for up to 30 minutes did not significantly degrade them. 

The full news release can be found online at https://news.rice. edu/news/2021/rice-lab-details-conditions-decontaminate-disposable-masks. 

Read the abstract at https://www. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0304389421026777 

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