General, Research, Technology

What are copper masks and how are they better than surgical ones?

And again, let's talk about masks.Despite the fact that in some regions of Russia the mandatory mask regime has been canceled, we will not forget about them soon. The fact is that even for people who have been vaccinated, doctors recommend that they continue to observe preventive measures. This is because scientists still do not know if recently vaccinated people can be carriers of coronavirus infection. In the meantime, while researchers are engaged in important business, people around the world choose their own protective masks. And the new year 2021 sets new trends - masks with copper and silver ions. Yes, it is these masks that are difficult to find in pharmacies today, since the demand for them significantly exceeds the supply. So, over the past few months, an unprecedented surge has occurred in the market for copper materials - the demand for copper sheets, socks and face masks has grown several times. All because of the advertisement, which claims that the fabric with copper and silver ions is capable of killing microbes. Experts, however, believe that consumers should be careful as copper is not a panacea for the new coronavirus. So how effective are these masks in fighting COVID-19?

The anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic marks the arrival of new face masks.

Copper ion protective masks

Copper is known to kill germs and evenis helping to limit the spread of infections such as E.coli, Salmonella and the flu, and recent scientific studies have shown that copper has the potential to fight the new coronavirus. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the virus lasted only a few hours on copper, compared to a few days on stainless steel and plastic - although The New York Times notes that researchers do not consider surfaces to be the primary mode of human transmission for coronavirus to the person.

Copper dishes have been used for drinking sinceAncient India. This is because copper is a natural antimicrobial material that can sterilize the surface on its own without the need for electricity or an antiseptic.

Results of another study,published in the journal PLOS One, found that copper ion masks "can significantly reduce the risk of contamination of the hands or the environment, and therefore subsequent contamination, from improper handling and disposal of masks." (It's worth noting, however, that the study was carried out by scientists who work at Cupron, which makes the same masks.)

Since the human immune system uses copper to fight germs, according to Michael Schmidt, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, the ability of copper to fight viruses is like a "pomegranate"... That's just for copper maskswork properly, the amount of copper in them must be sufficient to combat viral particles. In turn, microbiologist Michael Johnson of the University of Arizona notes that metal ions are contained in about 40% of proteins with known structures - and when copper enters a cell or virus, it can displace other metal ions, which can inhibit or destroy proteins.

In a pandemic, all masks are good. Or not?

And yet the durability of such masks causesa concern, especially if they are frequently washed or disinfected, as many household cleaners contain compounds that can remove copper ions. According to Williams Schaffner, medical director of the US National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the idea that copper ion masks protect against viruses better than conventional masks is "questionable." He added that he is much less concerned with the specific materials of which the masks are made, since the main thing is that people wear them at all.

Interestingly, earlier researchers believed thatusing copper on hospital surfaces can help keep the virus under control - although experts have warned that exposure to copper is not instantaneous and therefore should not replace hand washing, social distancing and other preventive measures to protect against the new coronavirus... But do antimicrobial masks prevent coronavirus infection?

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Given that the pandemic is far from over, many are wondering whether a conventional surgical mask is adequate protection against coronavirus infection.

As reported on the WHO website, COVID-19 is mainlyspreads by human-to-human contact or by contact with some contaminated surfaces. There is limited information on the effectiveness of wearing a mask made from antimicrobial material. Also, those who wear antimicrobial masks may feel more protected despite the small amount of evidence. Such false confidence can result in wearers being less likely to disinfect the mask, which can reduce its effectiveness.

Surgical masks

The surgical mask creates a physical barrierbetween the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Surgical masks come in a variety of thicknesses and capacities to protect a person from contact with liquids. These properties can also affect how easy it is to breathe through the mask, as well as the mask's ability to protect against infection.

See also: Case Study: Why Do Valve Masks Not Protect Against Viruses?

When worn correctly, a surgical mask helps block large droplets and splashes that may harbor germs (viruses and bacteria). We must not forget that surgical masks are for single use... If your mask is damaged or stained, orif breathing through it becomes difficult, the mask must be properly removed and discarded, replaced with a new one. Hands should be thoroughly washed before putting on, removing or discarding the mask.

Copper surgical masks are believed to be self-cleaning, and the copper ions used in them also prevent the virus from adhering to new surfaces.

As for other types of protective masks, thenI recommend reading our material on many types of protective masks. Well, returning to masks with copper and silver ions, it is likely that protective equipment with such characteristics will be used to combat future pandemics. There are already standards for measuring the effectiveness of disinfectants, for example against microbes. But when it comes to safe reuse of face masks, I would like to see more evidence. So we will wait for further research.