BOSTON (CBS) — Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed a silicone mask that is as effective as an N95 mask, but easier to sterilize so it can be used multiple times.
“We recognize that not everybody has the sophisticated sterilization equipment but we also recognize that many folks around the world would have access to some kind of an oven or perhaps a solution of chlorine,” said Giovanni Traverso, an MIT assistant professor and gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many hospitals began their own sterilization processes to make a single-use N95 mask viable for up to 20 uses. While the N95 filters must be replaced every time, the silicone masks can be more easily sterilized than regular N95 masks, therefore reducing waste, according to MIT.
“It is also clear to make it easier for the healthcare provider, patient interaction,” said Traverso.
A fit test was conducted on health care workers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“Most folks ended up finding that the breathability was excellent to good, and so people gave positive reviews on the breathability as well as the fit,” said James Byrne, a radiation oncologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and research affiliate at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
A second version of the mask is in the works based on feedback from health care workers. Then the researchers hope to team up with a company to increase production and get the mask approved by the FDA and National Institution for Occupational Safety and Health.