Spurred by COVID-19, researcher Linsey Marr evaluates efficacy of sterilized N95 respirators, alternative mask materials
Since March, Virginia Tech civil and environmental engineering professor Linsey Marr, an expert in the airborne transmission of infectious disease, has been testing the efficacy of sterilized N95 respirators and alternative mask materials in filtering out particles.
The rapid science experiments conducted by Marr’s team aim to help quantify how well these forms of personal protective equipment and homemade face coverings shield their wearers against COVID-19, especially in the face of shortages.
Dealing with sluggish PPE supply chains, the medical community and the wider public have turned to improvisation. Some hospitals have worked to extend the use of their stores of N95 respirators by sterilizing them. Members of the public, advised by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to wear cloth face coverings in places like grocery stores and pharmacies, are also exploring creative problem-solving by sourcing off-the-shelf materials for homemade masks. As these groups adapt, Marr’s team is working to supply them with insights grounded in science.
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