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MIT engineers design a reusable face mask that could be as effective as an N95

Researchers aim to make the design as effective as an N95 mask when it comes to stopping coronavirus spread.

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Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have designed a silicone rubber face mask that they believe could stop viral particles as effectively as N95 masks.

MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers
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What if you could safely sanitize and reuse an N95 protective face mask instead of disposing of it? A group of engineers and researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital may have found a way to do exactly that. The group has a created a new prototype for a reusable silicone face mask that can accommodate disposable N95 disc filters to protect people from coronavirus. The mask's design appeared in a paper published earlier this month in the British Medical Journal Open.

The new mask requires much less disposable material than a traditional N95 mask, and its silicon rubber can be safely sanitized, according to the researchers. 

"One of the key things we recognized early on was that in order to help meet the demand, we needed to really restrict ourselves to methods that could scale," MIT assistant professor Giovanni Traverso said in a release earlier this month. "We also wanted to maximize the reusability of the system, and we wanted systems that could be sterilized in many different ways."

Following feedback from health care workers and testing the design for comfort and wearability, the research team is working on a second version of the mask and planning to do additional lab tests to measure its ability to filter out airborne viral particles. The researchers are also working to establish a company that could let them quickly support scaled-up production of the mask, while pursuing FDA approval. 

Read more: 25 face mask styles we love that you can buy or make

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Unlike N95 masks, the new masks can be easily sterilized and used many times. This image shows photos of the mask (A and B) and the steps needed to clean and reuse the mask.

MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers
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