Surgical masks are often worn during outbreaks in hopes that they will be protective against whichever virus or pathogen is spreading. This behavior was especially notable during influenza outbreaks, MERS, and SARS outbreaks. However, when people sneeze into the masks, it will trap the droplets that are carrying the virus, but do not necessarily kills the virus. The virus will rather become trapped in the mask. This could eventually lead to infection through the handling of the used masks with the trapped infectious virus.
Hyo-Jick Choi, A University of Alberta professor and researcher, was able to create surgical masks that are capable of trapping and killing airborne viruses. Using crystallization of the vaccine liquid solution, he is able to use this method to kill the virus. By applying a salt formula to the mask that dries in a manner that is conducive towards the destruction of the virus allowed him to create a protective mask. Ultimately, these masks may prove to be very useful during pandemics or epidemics.
Gianna Nino-Tapias (’18)
Fu-Shi Quan, Ilaria Rubino, Su-Hwa Lee, Brendan Koch, Hyo-Jick Choi. Universal and reusable virus deactivation system for respiratory protection. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7