The current coronavirus pandemic has increased worldwide consumption of individual protective devices. Single-use surgical masks are one of the most used devices to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Nevertheless, the improper management of such protective equipment threatens our environment with a new form of plastic pollution. With the intention of contributing to a responsible policy of recycling, in the present work, five decontamination methods for used surgical masks that can be easily replicated with common household equipment are described. The decontamination procedures were hot water at 40◦C and 80◦C; autoclave; microwave at 750 W; and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. After each decontamination procedure, the bacterial load reduction of Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538 was recorded to verify the effectiveness of these methods and, moreover, bacterial filtration efficiency and breathability tests were performed to evaluate mask performances. The best results were obtained with the immersion in 80◦C water and the microwave-assisted sterilization. Both methods achieved a high degree of mask decontamination without altering the filtration efficiency and breathability, in accordance with the quality standard. The proposed decontamination methods represent a useful approach to reduce the environmental impact of this new waste material. Moreover, these procedures can be easily reproduced with common household equipment to increase the recycling efforts.

An Experimental Analysis of Five Household Equipment-Based Methods for Decontamination and Reuse of Surgical Masks

Scaglione E.;De Falco G.
;
Mantova G.;Caturano V.;D'anna A.;Salvatore P.
2022

Abstract

The current coronavirus pandemic has increased worldwide consumption of individual protective devices. Single-use surgical masks are one of the most used devices to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Nevertheless, the improper management of such protective equipment threatens our environment with a new form of plastic pollution. With the intention of contributing to a responsible policy of recycling, in the present work, five decontamination methods for used surgical masks that can be easily replicated with common household equipment are described. The decontamination procedures were hot water at 40◦C and 80◦C; autoclave; microwave at 750 W; and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. After each decontamination procedure, the bacterial load reduction of Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538 was recorded to verify the effectiveness of these methods and, moreover, bacterial filtration efficiency and breathability tests were performed to evaluate mask performances. The best results were obtained with the immersion in 80◦C water and the microwave-assisted sterilization. Both methods achieved a high degree of mask decontamination without altering the filtration efficiency and breathability, in accordance with the quality standard. The proposed decontamination methods represent a useful approach to reduce the environmental impact of this new waste material. Moreover, these procedures can be easily reproduced with common household equipment to increase the recycling efforts.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/891862
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