Spraying face masks with sanitiser reduces their effectiveness: Australian scientists

CANBERRA: According to Australian researchers, sanitising face masks lowers their efficiency. A team from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) reported on Thursday that exposing N95 and P2 face masks to alcohol-based sanitisers risks "severe degradation" of their ability to guard against airborne threats in a world-first study.

The  lead author Jurg Schutz said the findings would assist people understand how to care for disposable masks."Single-use face masks will continue to be a part of many of our lives as they provide us with protection against Covid, its variants, and any future pathogens," he said in a statement. "However, we had been hearing stories about people attempting to extend the life of these masks by cleaning them," he said.

"We began to consider the types of products that people were using more frequently during the epidemic, such as alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning solutions, and realised that these could affect the electrostatic properties of the face masks."

These masks rely on an electrical charge that attracts particles and traps them like a sticky spiderweb, he said "However, we also know that excessively intense alcoholic vapours can deplete this charge," he added. The study was released as a number of governments seek to relax mask regulations.

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