Are surgical masks manufactured from sterilisation wrap safe?

Sam E. Grigg, Andrea Zampiron, Farzan Akbaridoust, Dileep Chandran, Natasha E. Holmes, Paul D.R. Johnson, Ivan Marusic, Daryl Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Due to regional shortages some health services have proposed using surgical masks manufactured from sterilisation wrap. However, there has been little assessment of the safety of this practice. Therefore, we developed our own prototypes and evaluated whether they met regulatory standards. Methods: Surgical mask prototypes were manufactured from two thickness grades of commercial sterilisation wrap. Safety was assessed in the context of regulatory standards. As it was not previously reported, we developed and performed differential pressure and synthetic blood penetration resistance experiments in accordance with official methodology. Results: Bacterial filtration efficiency was comparable between sterilisation wrap and commercial surgical masks. Both prototypes met regulatory standards for synthetic blood resistance, whilst only our thinner mask fulfilled acceptable differential pressure (‘breathability’) thresholds. Conclusion: Acceptable barrier and breathability properties can be achieved with surgical masks produced from sterilisation wrap. Therefore, this may be a reasonable method to supplement stock if required. Unless there are shortages mandating alternatives, health-care workers should always use approved personal protective equipment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInfection, Disease and Health
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Infection control
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Sterilisation wrap
  • Surgical masks

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