The South African Medical Association is urging hospitals and clinics to ensure medical workers are provided with the N95 mask.
The South African Medical Association is urging hospitals and clinics to ensure medical workers are provided with the N95 mask.

Researchers invent device that makes N95 masks less stuffy

By Farah Khalfe Time of article published Mar 30, 2021

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What started as personal protective gear for health-care workers has become something of an entire industry on its own, with demand far outweighing supply and new variations being invented constantly.

What exactly is an N95 mask? And what are some of the innovations since the compulsory wearing of masks?

N95 masks derived their name from the fact that they filter out 95% of airborne particles. They have been the gold standard of PPE during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, many people claim they find it hard to breathe while wearing a mask.

N95 masks are hot and humid on the face. Research has indicated that when wearing an N95 mask, we breathe in 5% to 20% less oxygen than normal unfiltered air, and higher proportions of the carbon dioxide we would normally exhale.

To combat this, researchers at Stanford University developed a device that makes the experience of wearing an N95 mask less stuffy. The leader of the project, John Xu, aimed to create a device that created its oxygen and pumped it to an N95 mask.

The working prototype is a waist-mounted machine that plugs into any standard N95 mask. The machine is filled with water, and the battery can be charged to turn water into oxygen, which then flows into the N95 mask. At the same time, the second tube in the mask sucks away carbon dioxide. In theory, someone wearing Xu’s invention will breathe in a mix of gases that closely resembles normal air.

Xu envisions the invention will go for about $300 (about R4 400). However, production has been put on hold as they the iron out a few details.

Read this article and more in IOL TECH digimag here.

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