The news FFP2 sanitary masks of the CSIC are already on sale. Since last week the technology-based company that produces them, Bioinicia, a spin-off of the CSIC, markets them through its website and an online distributor. So does an Amazon store from this week. Its price for individuals is 2.5 euros per mask for full package purchases, in which 50 units come.
Among its main advantages over other similar products are its longer duration of use (up to 48 hours, for now), its lightness and its ability to dissipate heat and humidity.
They are made with an innovative nanofiber-based filter material developed by researchers at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC), led by scientist José María Lagarón.
“We have a commitment to social responsibility with distributors. We have limited the maximum price they can set so that the piracy situation is not generated again with distribution,” explains Lagarón.
The main benefit of anticovid-19 is that the grammage is 60 times thinner than conventional material. “This makes them thinner and lighter,” says the project manager. The Spanish firm intends to gradually launch products on the market and at the same time increase production capacity.
In the coming weeks, antimicrobial and biodegradable masks will also be available, as well as antimicrobial surgical-hygienic masks adapted to boys and girls between 6 and 10 years old.
Two days of use
One of the main advantages of the masks that are already on sale is their longer usability. Nanofibers exert mechanical filtration, contrary to traditional electrostatic technology which has a larger pore size. In addition, they dissipate humidity and heat better.
“We have seen that in 48 hours of use the filtration properties are not altered”, says Lagarón, who considers that they could be used longer without losing their properties. “We are not talking about using them for 48 hours, but about two days taking it off to eat and sleep those two days. That is the test we have done for its certification,” he details.
Until now, the use of the traditional surgical mask was not recommended for more than four hours and its filtration efficiency to fine aerosols was 65%, compared to the anticovid-19 mask, whose filtration efficiency against the penetration of fine aerosols greater than 94%.
Another inherent aspect of nanofibers is that they can be sterilized by spraying with 75% ethanol solution and allowed to dry for one hour. “It can be done if you have doubts after having been the first day in a closed place with many people or in a hospital,” says the researcher. However, this test is not certified because “there is no standard at the moment that takes it into account because they are novel materials,” he says.
Pronto, antimicrobial and biodegradable
Among the qualities of nanofibers, the scientist points out that viricidal agents can be integrated within them. “These will be in the series of masks that will be marketed from the middle or end of September. They are being certified now,” emphasizes Lagarón.
In the case of bacteria, these are deactivated by the filter after one hour inside the mask. “It is a way to guarantee usability and security for longer,” he says.
The biodegradable masks will also be marketed in the coming weeks. “At the moment they have been formulated in a surgical format because there are certain difficulties in terms of sewing that the EPI type carry. It will cost a little more,” he explains.
Those that are already biodegradable are the surgical-hygienic ones: “They can be biodegraded and meet the biodegradation standard in industrial composting. We have incorporated into the mask design materials that can be composted in domestic ways and in environmental conditions (sea and soil). . They will be able to be thrown in the containers of organic waste “, indicates.
However, there is one caveat: the rubber bands on the ears. “It is quite difficult to find a biodegradable material that meets this functionality. There is one made from natural materials that has a coating that does biodegrade. In principle, the entire body of the mask and its filter do degrade with organic matter.”
These masks are now ready, awaiting certification. “At this moment the main bottleneck is having the certifications, we hope to have it in two weeks. If they comply, from then on we would already have the manufacturing agreement with a company that does surgical procedures and we would remove them. ipso facto to the market”.
At the moment, the masks on sale are reusable and sterilizable with alcohol. “They therefore do not yet have antimicrobial agents, nor are they biodegradable or washable,” says the scientist. One of the main reasons is that several of the usability tests that are carried out to verify its effectiveness are not included in the standard norms.
The standards thus collect the same information in conventional masks as in anti-COVID-19. “You cannot put different things that are not in the standard or in the certificate for its use because the certified body reviews all the documentation before marketing it,” clarifies Lagarón, whose group is trying to include within these standards of high-level masks filtration or EPIs that all these relevant properties can be analyzed.
Masks for back to school
The research team is also working on the development of masks adapted to boys and girls from six years old, but they will not be PPE. “There are no PPE for children, they are not regulated and also, as the mask areas are smaller, the ability to breathe would be more complex”, Lagarón emphasizes.
The company and the CSIC center will use and manufacture the antimicrobial surgical-hygienic mask to give the little ones more security. “The surgical ones allow breathing, but they are a bit more open. As children touch them a lot, the fact that it includes the antimicrobial agent can be interesting.”
The product will probably be prepared throughout September for children between the ages of 6 and 10. “The certification would go very quickly because by having the surgery in the largest size already certified. It would reach the market earlier,” says the project director.