Single-use masks – do not throw them away but let them dry, suggests Vaud researchers

To fight the high consumption of masks and their effect on the environment, scientists recommend reusing them after 7 days.

According to Unisante after one week, the masks are completely recyclable and risk-free.

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Researchers at Lausanne and Unisante of Environmental Action studied the environmental impact of various strategies for using masks aimed at populations: “to determine which solution is most effective in terms of ecological and health”. They set themselves the purpose of establishing “taking into account both environmental impact and protective efficacy”, so as to limit the overproduction and overproduction of masks while maintaining the health of the population.

On this Tuesday, he told about the results of his research. Even though so-called “surgical” masks are generally intended for single use according to a Federal Health Office prescription, some treatments may allow them to be reused “without altering the barrier capacity”. For example, placing them at a temperature of 70 ° C for 30 minutes or at room temperature for 7 days. According to the researchers, they can be used by the same person up to 10 times, reducing the number of masks used by the same amount.

7 days later the virus became inactive.

In France, last October, scientists had already mentioned this track PleadedThe ant Storage Mask P in Paper EnvelopeDrink them to dryWithin a week before reuse. Virginia Courtier-Organozzo, Researcher in GeneticsDirector of Development and Research at CNRS, Then quoting a study published in «Knife“, Which showed that after 7 days,” despite a high onset concentration on the outer face and on the inner face of the mask, 99.9% of the viral particles were no longer actives ».

However, the recommendation of the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) is always to discard hygiene or surgical masks after single use. For Professor David Vernez, head of the Department of Occupational Health and Environment at UNICENT, his approach is different: “We have developed a more practical vision than the standard, which is more down to earth. We note that the use of masks has a substantial effect and we have investigated which methods of use mitigate this effect while ensuring “safe” conditions. We offer something simpler, more economical, more ecological for equally effective protection. “

“By now, the urgency of necessity has come to dominate these ideas.”

This solution makes it possible to fight against the mass consumption of surgical masks that is not without consequences: “These masks are actually made of synthetic materials, researchers note, mainly polypropylene and mainly China. Is imported from. In addition to the risk of scarcity, these masks shipped from overseas and non-biodegradable have an impact both economically and environmentally. It is estimated that several billion disposable masks will have entered the ocean by 2020, which Thousands of tons of plastics represent pollution for the marine environment. Until now, the urgency of necessity has dominated these ideas. “

The authors of this study estimate that adoption of the so-called “weekly” solution by 10% of the Swiss population, or the use of “homemade” cotton masks, would be equivalent to saving COO emissions on an average of 5,600 individual flights. From Paris to New York and “to prevent 10 million PP plastic bottle caps from being exhausted in nature”.

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