Western Cape, South Africa – Feb 1, 2021 – Along with the quickly spreading COVID-19 Pandemic came a slew of quickly produced face masks. They started entering the market from all over the world. This created a situation where these low-tech face masks had limited effectiveness against viral pathogens and were also entering the ecosystem through landfills, as they were not recyclable.
As the Coronavirus Pandemic spread throughout the globe, there were companies hard at work looking for the solution to the problems created by the other face masks. The Stellenbosch Nanofiber Company, the leader in commercial scale manufacture of advanced biomedical nanofiber materials, was hard at work creating a mask and filter that would prove to be the solution to the COVID-19 Face Mask dilemma.
Single-Use Masks Create Challenges:
The single-use nature of standard medical masks leads to many problems in general, but these are exacerbated in the context of community health workers (CHWs) and the Covid-19 Pandemic. Huge quantities of masks need to be sourced and their sheer number presents challenges:
- Multiple suppliers need to be identified and each one vetted to ensure that they have the necessary quality management systems in place.
- There is an oversupply of masks from some countries, but the quality of masks is uncertain. Most surgical masks look terribly similar, so it is difficult to distinguish high-quality masks from cheap imitations without having their filtration efficiency tested. The rapid growth in demand for such tests has also put severe strain on testing laboratories, leading to lead times of several weeks.
- Substandard masks do not have the required filtration efficiency and place CHWs and their patients in danger of infection.
- Prices of masks have become very unpredictable. During the early months of the pandemic, prices for masks and other PPE saw staggering increases of up to 1000%. After the coronavirus outbreak in China came under control, demand for masks subsided and sale of excess inventories and/or dumping of substandard products saw prices plummet.
- The second wave of infections currently seen in Europe is leading to a new increase in demand for masks. The net effect of these fluctuating market demands is that prices of masks are quite volatile and buyers have no way to correlate the price of masks to quality.
- Shipping hundreds of millions of pieces of PPE from all over the world and then distributing them to hundreds of thousands of CHWs in rural areas of developing countries is a massive logistical challenge.
The net effect of these challenges is that shortages of masks and other PPE for CHWs often occur. When these shortages occur, CHWs are forced to make a difficult choice:
- Work without masks, or reuse masks that are intended for single-use and either do or do not disinfect such masks. Single-use masks cannot be effectively disinfected with water or alcohol as this reduces the charge on the fibers in the filter and thereby reduces their filter efficiency.
In either case, the risk of infection for the CHWs and their patients is substantially increased.
The reusability of nanofiber filter media is a significant differentiator from the filter media used in traditional single-use masks. In reaction to global PPE shortages, numerous systematic studies have been done on the extended use, re-use or reprocessing of single-use surgical masks. The conclusion from all these reviews is that extended use and re-use of single-use surgical masks and respirators (with or without reprocessing) leads to diminished performance and should only be considered in situations of critical shortage.
ReThink Face Masks & Filters have proven themselves to be the intelligent and cost-effective alternative to the traditional single-use face masks flooding the market.
Here is why:
- It consists of a filtering layer of tiny PVDF nanofibers with diameters smaller than 160 nanometers. This layer is created through a process called electrospinning with SNC’s patented high-throughput ball-electrospinning technology (SNC BEST ®).
- The nanofiber filter layer ensures that the mask has a particle (PFE) and bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) greater than 95% for Type I (and 98% for Type II), whilst keeping the breathability remarkably high (< 40 Pa/cm2), in line with European standard EN 14683.
- The filters are equivalent to traditional surgical masks and are suitable for use in primary care settings where basic PPE protection of health workers and other social and relief workers is required. Note: Like other surgical masks, these masks are not suitable for aerosol generating procedures.
- The filters are manufactured in a clean manufacturing environment under ISO 13485 certified Good Manufacturing Practices for medical devices and can be used right out of the package.
- After the initial use, the filter can be disinfected with boiling hot water and reused 9 times.
The Rethink Face Mask Filter-compatible cloth mask is designed with a filter pocket that serves to hold the nanofiber filter in place over the wearer’s mouth and nose. The modular design recognizes the fact that, when it comes to face masks, one-size-does-NOT-fit-all.
The mask design, using ear loops or ties, and different sizes, ensure that masks can be selected for different face shapes and use scenarios. Masks also come with optional fabric finishes for water repellency, flame retardancy, and antiviral and antibacterial activity.
All ReThink Face Mask Filter-compatible cloth mask designs have a wire nose piece to ensure optimal conformance to the wearer’s face and have been extensively field-tested and refined to ensure maximum user comfort.
The cloth masks are machine washable and can be disinfected with boiling hot water. The cloth masks are made from a durable polyester warp knit fabric which is quick drying so as to ensure the user can continue to use the mask soon after washing.
Keep in mind, due to their location and manufacturing capabilities in Africa, shipping their Masks and Nanofiber Filter result in huge savings in logistics. Because these filters are reusable, they replace 9 single use masks which result in huge logistical savings and reduce environmental waste.
Complete information is available at: https://rethinkfacemaskfilter.com
Company Name: Stellenbosch Nanofiber Company
Contact Person: Media Relations
Email: Send Email
Phone: +27 82 572 3434
City: Western Cape
Country: South Africa