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EDITORIAL: The right face mask

LAST week, an online forum organized by the Mindanao Institute of Journalism was conducted to answer the question,”Where do our PPEs go?” Come to think of it, where do these disposable face masks and other personal protective equipment end up?

For hospitals and other medical facilities, they already have established protocols and measures on proper waste disposal, including those considered hazardous. Although the increasing number of PPEs due to the pandemic is a concern, the third party engaged in keeping all these disposed properly, has come up with solutions using modern technology that is compliant to DoST and DOH requirements.

Using reusable face masks is the advocacy of the environment group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability to curb the rising number of disposable masks that have become ubiquitous – on the streets, in canals and in our already burdened seas. It would appear that we still have to be told how to properly throw our PPEs, apart from being reminded time and again to wear one.

Reusable masks keep garbage from piling up and saves the environment. But are all reusable face masks created equal? The Philippine Textile Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology developed a special face mask with added functionality and value. The cloth mask commonly used today, ‘can provide protection against particulate matter or microscopic particles that are present in the air.” But the research institute is taking the cloth mask to a higher level, through what they call REwear (Re-usable, washable, re-wearable) face mask. This was “tested for water-repellency, toxicity, fluid resistance, bacterial filtration efficiency, particle filtration efficiency, breathability and flammability.” In June, this year, the REwear face mask was considered compliant to the World Health Organization guidelines which includes the type of material, breathability, number of layers, combination of materials used, mask shape, and coating to ensure that they offer ample breathability and protection for users.

However, these face masks are not for sale to the general public as these are only for the use of frontliners. The DoST said that the technology adoption is open to textile processors. Apart from REwear, other institutions are doing research supporting reusable masks. And since we have to adapt to an environment where the virus is still active, it is prudent that we choose the face mask that can protect us from the virus and that is easy on the budget.

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