Nonwovens in facemasks
The use of nonwoven materials is widespread throughout a variety of industries and fields, automotive, healthcare, and filtration are among the popular applications. Fabrics that are made of nonwoven materials are an essential components of disposable face masks. Melt-blown, spun-bond, and electrospinning are the three primary methods that can be utilized to create a consolidated nonwoven structure to produce a facemask.
World Health Organization (WHO) encourages to use facemasks
The World Health Organization (WHO) has and will continue to urge the use of facemasks both during and after the COVID outbreak . Therefore, the recommended facemask has three layers of nonwoven fabric for maximum protection. The fundamental function of the intermediate filtration layer is to block the movement of bioaerosols in both directions. The inner and outer layers ensure a snug fit while shielding the skin from the filtration layer.
Today's facemasks have been made of petroleum
However, most facemasks are made primarily from polymers derived from petroleum, such as polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene, and polyester. All of them are non-degradable and have a substantial negative impact on the environment [2,3].
As a result, they can remain there for hundreds of years. As a matter of fact, the epidemic led to a rise in the amount of pollution in the environment caused by plastic and microplastic.
Biodegradable polymers to replace petrolium-based polymers
Over this, a facemask that is made from biodegradable polymers will be the best option and can serve as an alternative to facemasks made from polymers derived from petroleum. In general, these biodegradable polymers could be produced from a wide variety of bioresources (agro waste), and other sources such as cellulose.
The usage of facemasks from biodegradable polymers has environmental benefits such as the regeneration of raw resources, biodegradation, and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, which are the main contributors to global warming. In addition to this, it contributes to the development of the circular economy by making things simpler to recycle resources.
- WHO Updates COVID-19 Guidelines on Masks, Treatments and Patient Care Available online: https://www.who.int/news/item/13-01-2023-who-updates-covid-19-guideline….
- Fadare, O.O.; Okoffo, E.D. Covid-19 Face Masks: A Potential Source of Microplastic Fibers in the Environment. Science of The Total Environment 2020, 737, 140279, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140279.
- Nicholas Mallos The Problem with Plastics Available online: https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/
Aravin Prince Periyasamy, Textile and Nonwoven Materials, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, P.O. Box 1000, FI-02044, Espoo, Finland.
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