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UBC researchers design sustainable N95 mask made from locally-sourced materials

(Courtesy UBC)
Summary

Researchers say the Can-Mask is made of wood fibers, sourced and created entirely within Canada.

One goal researchers had was to address the issue of mask shortages

Another goal was to create a sustainable alternative to synthetic and disposable masks

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — UBC has designed what could be the world’s first compostable and biodegradable N-95 mask.

Researchers say the Can-Mask is made of wood fibers, sourced and created entirely within Canada.

One goal researchers had was to address the issue of mask shortages.

“When we decided to design a mask back in March, we knew early on we wanted a solution that uses local materials, is easy to produce and inexpensive, with the added bonus of being compostable and biodegradable,” ays researcher Johan Foster, a chemical and biological engineering associate professor in the faculty of applied science.

“With escalating tensions during a pandemic, international supply lines for medical masks can break down, creating local shortages.”

Another goal was to create a sustainable alternative to synthetic and disposable masks.

“With millions of disposable masks and gloves already polluting city sidewalks and potentially entering our rivers and oceans, we urgently need a biodegradable option to avoid making a massive impact on our environment,” says Foster.

They’re testing two versions — one with a newly created wood-based filter made from local softwoods, and another with the N-95 filter attached.

If the prototypes meet safety standards safe, the researchers will apply for Health Canada certification.