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What PPE experts want you to know about cloth face masksDecember 14, 2020

In Episode 9 of Big Ideas for a Changing World, four experts from McMaster’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) answer frequently asked questions about cloth masks, and how they’re working with industry partners to improve the next generation of PPE in Canada.

What’s the best cloth mask for the public to use? How can PPE be made to be more sustainable? Can imperfect use of imperfect masks still reduce COVID-19 spread?  

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 In Episode 9 of Big Ideas for a Changing World, four experts from McMaster’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) answer frequently asked questions about cloth masks, and how they’re working with industry partners to improve the next generation of PPE in Canada. 

CEPEM is Canada’s first and only research hub dedicated to developing, testing and validating PPE, from improving cloth masks for the general public to rethinking the design of PPE for healthcare workers. 

“We want to work with companies to make PPE more innovative – understand how to make them resistant to challenging cleaning environments, how to make masks from sustainable materials rather than materials that become hazardous waste, make adaptive smart materials that can actually detect that the virus is there,” says Charles de Lannoy, an assistant professor in Chemical Engineering and co-author of a recent piece in The Conversation about the best mask for public use. 

Since launching this summer, the multi-disciplinary team of engineers, clinicians and industry representatives have worked with more than 50 companies on PPE. Members of CEPEM are also developing more robust Canadian standards for PPE validation with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) as part of a team selected from across the country. 

“It's an exciting area of research that we've been involved with, and hopefully we'll come up with some good answers fairly soon that will benefit both the manufacturing community and the public,” says Myrna Dolovich, an engineer and a professor of medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences who is working with the CSA alongside Zeinab Hosseinidoust, an assistant professor in Chemical Engineering. 

In the episode, you’ll hear from the following CEPEM faculty members: 

  • Catherine Clase – Associate ProfessorMedicine, McMaster University; Nephrologist, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. 
  • Charles de Lannoy – Assistant ProfessorChemical Engineering, McMaster University. 
  • Myrna Dolovich – Professor, Medicine, McMaster University; Head, Firestone Research Aerosol Laboratory, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. 
  • Zeinab Hosseinidoust – Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, McMaster University. 

Visit clothmasks.ca for up-to-date information on the most effective cloth masks for public use, mask cleaning and more. This website is co-led by Catherine Clase and Juan Jesus Carrero from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.