The whole world is coming to the same conclusion that the masks are the way to go for this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But simply wearing a mask does not suffice, we need to wear clean ones too.
Scientists believe that pathogens can live 8 to 12 hours on a mask. Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons also has some helpful strategies as to how to clean masks (N95's to be precise). But we have something more novel.
A recent study from the University of Illinois published in Environmental Science and Technology details an alternative decontamination method. The study suggests that 50 minutes of dry heat delivered through an electric cooker (including rice cookers) can effectively decontaminate an N95.
As you might have heard, the demand for high-efficiency masks is at an all-time high and the supply cannot meet the demand. This jeopardizes our much-needed healthcare workers as they are distressingly susceptible to contracting pathogens.
An accessible, handy, and cheap way was necessary
Colleagues Vishal Verma and Thanh Nguyen thought about developing a decontamination method that requires no preparation and has easy-to-access components. Something quick and accessible.
Then the colleagues came to the conclusion that an electric cooker might be able to check all the boxes. They began experimenting and the preliminary tests they ran yielded favorable results, electric cookers, indeed, were efficient at getting rid of four different classes of virus (one being a type of coronavirus). What's more surprising is that this method proved more efficient than UV light.
After extensive testing that followed Verma confidently says, "We built a chamber in my aerosol-testing lab specifically to look at the filtration of the N95 respirators, and measured particles going through it," and remarked, "The respirators maintained their filtration capacity of more than 95% and kept their fit, still properly seated on the wearer's face, even after 20 cycles of decontamination in the electric cooker"
Below is a video detailing how this works.