It’s hard to breathe in an N95 mask. This Stanford scientist has a clever solution

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The N95 mask is a lifesaver, but it’s uncomfortable to wear for a long time. One Stanford scientist has a potential solution. It certainly doesn’t look elegant: an N95 mask , with two tubes sticking out, one of which snakes its way down to a bolted hunk of metal that resembles an industrial Discman. But looks can be deceiving. This new device, being developed at Stanford, is probably the most comfortable N95 a nurse or doctor could ever wear. Read Full Story

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This DIY mask test kit finds that your neck fleece isn’t really helping

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Scientists developing a tool to help mask manufacturers make sure their cloth masks actually work found some masks work better than others, and one kind works particularly badly. If you buy a cloth mask online—whether from Amazon or Etsy or a large manufacturer such as Adidas—you’ll see a warning reminding you that what you’re buying isn’t medical grade. And while the evidence continues to mount that cloth face masks work, it’s also true that every mask isn’t equally effective, and many companies now making masks are doing it for the first time. In the absence of regulation for cloth masks, as shortages of more proven N95 masks continue, how can consumers or the manufacturers making masks know how much protection they offer? Read Full Story

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This DIY kit turns an Ikea box into a mask decontamination unit for hospitals on the brink

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As hospitals run out of protective gear and are forced to use masks over and over, scientists are looking for ways to make masks safer to reuse. This one would let hospitals make a simple machine to squeeze a longer life out of every mask they have. Hospitals still don’t have enough masks for the nurses and doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis—and in the U.S., at least 5,400 healthcare workers have been infected and at least 40 have died. N95 masks aren’t designed to be reusable , but many hospitals are now faced with no other choice. In New York City, nurses have reported being told to use the same mask for five shifts in a row. Read Full Story

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MIT researchers create a reusable silicone mask to replace the N95

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The mask can be easily cleaned after each use, so it could help solve supply issues. And it’s clear, which could help with communication. As new coronavirus cases spike in the U.S.—Florida alone now has 12 times more cases than the entire country of Australia—healthcare workers still face a shortage of N95 masks. Many hospitals are now reusing the masks, even though they’re intended to be thrown out after a single use. Various solutions for disinfecting masks or increasing the supply are in the works , but a new silicone mask now in development is designed to be used and sterilized repeatedly, and could be as effective as the gold standard of an N95 respirator. Read Full Story

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This UV-light ‘bug zapper’ can decontaminate 600 N95 masks an hour

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The best option is for doctors to not reuse masks, but during the shortages of the last few months, a team of engineers from Lehigh University helped a nearby hospital come up with a stopgap solution to make reusing masks safer. In a room at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, sits an octagonal machine, 80 inches in diameter and about 5 feet tall, that glows with the bright blue of UV lights. It’s been nicknamed the “bug zapper,” both because it resembles an oversized one, and because, essentially, it zaps away the bug behind COVID-19. Using powerful UV-C lights, the device can decontaminate about 200 N95 masks with just 15 minutes of ultraviolet light exposure. That works out to about 600 masks per hour. Read Full Story

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How to decontaminate an N95 mask in just 3 minutes

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Scientists have developed a method of steaming your mask in the microwave that kills all the viruses living on it. You have all the equipment you need at home. Months after mask manufacturers ramped up production of N95 masks in response to the coronavirus crisis, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes taking care of COVID-19 patients are still facing shortages of the respirators. Because of the lack of supply for essential workers, consumers still can’t buy the masks in many stores, despite the fact that they’re one of the best lines of defense against the virus. And as COVID-19 cases spike in many areas, the problem will get worse. Read Full Story

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This filter for the front of an N95 mask could make it reusable

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Scientists came up with an experimental virus-blocking membrane that can be discarded so doctors can use the mask again. As governments around the world struggle to build up a supply of N95 masks for healthcare workers—navigating price gouging, counterfeit respirators, scammers, and fierce competition from other governments—some hospitals are still taking care of COVID-19 patients without adequate supplies, and reusing masks that were designed to be disposable. Read Full Story

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Making a new mask? Some fabrics might filter as well as N95 masks (and you probably have them at home)

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Here’s a new study about the best mask material to add to your pile of mask studies. Do you have silk or flannel or chiffon lying around? Maybe you’ve hacked together a DIY mask from an old T-shirt or pillowcase over the last few weeks. That’s probably good enough for most uses, but if you want to get precise about it, a new study suggests that a combination of two materials could do even more to protect you from spreading or getting the coronavirus. A mask made from a layer of high-thread-count cotton plus two layers of chiffon or silk performs nearly as well as an N95 mask—and does better than an N95 mask at capturing the smallest particles the scientists shot at it. Read Full Story

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