Masks have become a compulsion rather than an exception in the last year or so. It has been the main asset for a person’s safety for himself and others around him/her.
Mask – A history of traditional sanitary practice
Protecting the nose and mouth by covering them has been the primary goal to stop contagious diseases. Considering the history, the use of masks initiated in the late 1880s, where surgeons used masks to avoid the spread of contagions to patients’ wounds, which may cause severe complications during and post-operation. It was a strategy of infection control, which in medical terms, merely means maintaining Aseptic conditions.
As time passed, the masks kept on developing, and now in the present day scenario, we all know how they have become a mandate whenever an individual plan to go out of their house or go into any crowded place.
How did the change come?
Traditionally the masks were made only of cotton. But as the industrial development took place, they too developed in their own making. Synthetic non-woven face masks then came into use because of their high filtering capacity, comfort, and convenience. All these masks were one-time use, or we can say disposable. The main motto behind making such disposable masks was to inhibit the spread of infection from oneself after the first use. However, there were some other reasons too for the production of these masks, which included reducing labor costs, facilitating supply management, and responding to the high demand for disposables that eye-catchy marketing campaigns had created among the health-care workers.
But as a coin always has two sides, the idea of making these disposable masks too had its cons. People started facing problems with these masks, forcing them to manufacture home-made masks that were more reliable and scientifically precise than those already in use.
To keep the business going and meet the medical needs of people, the development of high-tech masks included the M31 masks, the N95 masks, surgically specific masks, and many others.
The COVID-19 pandemic challenge –
There is absolutely no doubt that coronavirus has made many medical theories about masks to shiver from its grassroots. With the virus spreading enormously all over the world, the need for masks increased manifolds. Wearing masks was made compulsory. The scarcity of masks forced people to sew cloth masks at home for their personal use and supply them to nearby hospitals. But these improvised cloth masks are nowhere near providing the M31s and the N95s’ level of safety. But the public has been very enthusiastic. However, it may not last long.
The transition from cloth to electricity –
As we all know, wearing masks has become ubiquitous. People have usually ended up using these devices when traveling from place to place. But many studies have shown that pathogens tend to reside on a surface for a very long time. As a result, the masks themselves might become a source of transmission.
However, many foreign universities think we can use electricity to deactivate the pathogenic property or even kill a microbe entirely. Recent studies have also shown that electroceutical fabric kills coronavirus on contact and may guarantee masks’ safety and potentially make them reusable. When the electrical mask gets some moisture, a current is generated, killing the virus particles in the humidity. Various laboratories conducted tests, which proved that these masks could nullify the coronavirus within just minutes. This leads to the theory that demonstrates the exploitation of coronavirus’s physical properties to make them ineffective following contact low-level electric fields used in the electronic face masks.
Electronic masks are already in use as an antimicrobial electroceutical for the treatment of seriously infected wounds. The FDA may soon give them the green light for other applications.
Such masks may create a better environment to breathe in for all the people around the world. They undoubtedly will overtake the M31s and N95s.
Standard masks can definitely catch the virus before they are breathed in, but they can still cause infection if the mask isn’t cleaned properly but it is clear that the electric masks can definitely kill the virus and stop the self-infection in case of any mistake. Using such masks have made the disinfection process as easy as charging a smartphone.