Texas A&M researches ways to make DIY medical masks

Posted at 7:04 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 20:18:59-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — As medical supplies begin to diminish, Brazos County Emergency Room physicians have turn to Texas A&M's Biomedical Engineering Department for help.

Last week, a group of professors and graduate students started to develop and test a way to make medical masks from readily available materials.

“So yarn for the straps, sheer drapery and staples for fastening," - these are the materials they are using according to Biomedical engineering professor and Vice Dean of the Engineering Medicine program Dr. John Criscione.

"The masks design could be done with any filter material, but we used ac filter materials because they’ve already been tested,” he said.

Through their research of a low technology solution to a growing problem, scientists at A&M are finding ways to make the best worst-case scenario for local medical professionals.

"We’ve really looked at particular ways that we can assess how they are performing,” explains Dr. Criscione.

When assessing the performance of their DIY masks, Dr. Criscione says the fit of the mask is the most important.

"We use qualitative fit testing and then ones that pass the qualitative fit we’ve moved on to quantitative testing,” explains Criscione.

Finding materials that are capable of filtering 95 percent of airborne particles, like the N95 mask, is important to everyone to in the medical field if they had to resort to using DIY mask, explains Dr. David Goodman.

"I understand that there’s some research being done at Texas A&M regarding developing new N95 like masks and that should be essential research that gets supported," says Dr. Goodman.

And without masks, medical professionals would be unable to care of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

"The spread of the coronavirus pandemic would be even more vigorous and more rapid,” says Dr Goodman.

There is another group at A&M's College of Engineering that is also working on options to produce protective masks using 3D printing technology as another option to the DIY Masks.