An affordable antimicrobial spray-based coating makes masks and PPEs reusable

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which protects against coronavirus outbreaks, is likely to be used over and over again with comfortable ear guards.

While PPEs are meant to protect wearers from infectious microbes and virus droplets, they generally do not have the ability to prevent the spread of microbes as the surface of the fabric allows adherence and accumulation of microbes with time. Hence, it is dangerous to neglect the management of PPEs or dispose of them incorrectly. Spraying the chemical on them can kill the viruses and prevent their spread. It can also be used on clothing, medical equipment, and so on.

As a solution, a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, has developed an antimicrobial spray-based coating for PPE and 3D-printed ear guard for comfortable use of face masks by healthcare workers. The spray-based coating is made using metal nanoparticles, such as copper and silver, as well as other active ingredients. This metal nanoparticle cocktail acts as an antimicrobial agent, ensuring limited penetration and accumulation of microbial contaminants on PPE.

3D-printed ear guard for comfortable use of face masks by healthcare workers
3D-printed ear guard for comfortable use of face masks by healthcare workers.

The coating is capable of killing and protecting the spread of microbes once they come in contact with the coated PPE surface. Thus, it has the potential to reduce the risk of secondary infection by limiting the transmission of the microbes.

According to the researchers, the new technology is affordable and readily deployable using existing infrastructure available with PPE manufacturers. In addition to killing microbes, it will allow the reusability of masks and other PPEs. The innovation can be implemented through a one-step facile spray or dip-coated method using existing industry infrastructure to coat fabric materials, which are commonly used for masks and bodysuits. The team has reportedly filed for a Provisional Patent for their invention.

Besides the spray coating, the researcher team also has 3D printed ‘Ear Guard’ prototype, which makes the long-term usage of strapped and tight-fitting face masks possible without pain or discomfort to the wearer. This could be very helpful to the healthcare workers, as its ergonomic design holds the face mask strap in a place without giving pressure to the ear. Recently, we informed you about a similar invention made by a 12-year-old student to help health staff wearing masks all day.

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