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Journal of Applied Polymer Science ; 140(5), 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2231430


During the global spread of COVID‐19, high demand and limited availability of melt‐blown filtration material led to a manufacturing backlog of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs). This shortfall prompted the search for alternative filter materials that could be quickly mass produced while meeting N95 FFR filtration and breathability performance standards. Here, an unsupported, nonwoven layer of uncharged polystyrene (PS) microfibers was produced via electrospinning that achieves N95 performance standards based on physical parameters (e.g., filter thickness) alone. PS microfibers 3–6 μm in diameter and deposited in an ~5 mm thick filter layer are favorable for use in FFRs, achieving high filtration efficiencies (≥97.5%) and low pressure drops (≤15 mm H2O). The PS microfiber filter demonstrates durability upon disinfection with hydroxyl radicals (•OH), maintaining high filtration efficiencies and low pressure drops over six rounds of disinfection. Additionally, the PS microfibers exhibit antibacterial activity (1‐log removal of E. coli) and can be modified readily through integration of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) during electrospinning to enhance their activity (≥3‐log removal at 25 wt% AgNP integration). Because of their tunable performance, potential reusability with disinfection, and antimicrobial properties, these electrospun PS microfibers may represent a suitable, alternative filter material for use in N95 FFRs.

J Occup Environ Hyg ; 18(6): 265-275, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1228372


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a high demand for respiratory protection among health care workers in hospitals, especially surgical N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs). To aid in alleviating that demand, a survey of commercially available filter media was conducted to determine whether any could serve as a substitute for an N95 FFR while held in a 3D-printed mask (Stopgap Surgical Face Mask from the NIH 3D Print Exchange). Fourteen filter media types and eight combinations were evaluated for filtration efficiency, breathing resistance (pressure drop), and liquid penetration. Additional testing was conducted to evaluate two filter media disinfection methods in the event that the filters were reused in a hospital setting. Efficiency testing was conducted in accordance with the procedures established for approving an N95 FFR. One apparatus used a filter-holding device and another apparatus employed a manikin head to which the 3D-printed mask could be sealed. The filter media and combinations exhibited collection efficiencies varied between 3.9% and 98.8% when tested with a face velocity comparable to that of a standard N95 FFR at the 85 L min-1 used in the approval procedure. Breathing resistance varied between 10.8 to >637 Pa (1.1 to > 65 mm H2O). When applied to the 3D-printed mask efficiency decreased by an average of 13% and breathing resistance increased 4-fold as a result of the smaller surface area of the filter media when held in that mask compared to that of an N95 FFR. Disinfection by dry heat, even after 25 cycles, did not significantly affect filter efficiency and reduced viral infectivity by > 99.9%. However, 10 cycles of 59% vaporized H2O2 significantly (p < 0.001) reduced filter efficiency of the media tested. Several commercially available filter media were found to be potential replacements for the media used to construct the typical cup-like N95 FFR. However, their use in the 3D-printed mask demonstrated reduced efficiency and increased breathing resistance at 85 L min-1.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Disinfection/standards , Equipment Contamination/prevention & control , Materials Testing/standards , N95 Respirators/virology , Occupational Exposure/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Air Pollutants, Occupational/analysis , Equipment Failure Analysis/statistics & numerical data , Guidelines as Topic , Humans , Inhalation Exposure/analysis , SARS-CoV-2