Proper use of FFP2 masks

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As of January 25, FFP2 masks will be mandatory in Austria’s public transportation systems as well as in retail stores. That is why they are currently in short supply. FFP2 masks are actually designed as disposable products for professional use. Those who use the masks privately, for example for shopping, do not necessarily have to throw them away after each use, according to the TÜV Association (VdTÜV).

The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) is currently funding a research project at Münster University of Applied Sciences. It is investigating the simple methods that can be used to reuse FFP2 masks.

Do not touch the outside
According to the researchers, the most important thing is not to touch the outside of the mask. After removing it, you should immediately wash and disinfect your hands. Infectious corona viruses can persist here for an hour even at 70 degrees. According to the researchers, the filter material of the masks at room temperature may still have infectious particles even after days. Therefore, they warn against wearing the same mask on consecutive days.

Under no circumstances should the masks be placed on the radiator to dry. Temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius develop there. These would be the best conditions for bacteria and fungi to multiply.

Disinfecting in the oven
To remove pathogens from the mask relatively quickly, you can put it in the oven. But before that, the mask must be left to dry in the air for a day. To do this, hang it in a place with low humidity where it does not come into contact with any objects.

In the oven at 80 degrees Celsius, all corona pathogens are completely eliminated after 60 minutes. Then the mask is left to cool on the rack.

But here, too, care must be taken: Some ovens have large temperature variations, even when you set 80 degrees. That’s why researchers recommend that you do a test run with an oven thermometer for an hour beforehand.

Not too hot
However, this method also has disadvantages: for example, the retaining straps can lose tensile strength in the oven. Stable masks (basket model) even lose their shape completely, so the method is unsuitable for them.

Masks can also become deformed at 90 degrees or more, resulting in a reduction in filter performance. Even if one could assume that the increased temperature accelerates the process, one should therefore refrain from doing so.

Drying in room air
If you have several FFP2 masks available and perhaps cannot or do not want to use an oven, you can also disinfect them in room air. However, the steps should be followed very carefully for this procedure to provide sufficient protection.

A weekday system should be established for this purpose. The masks can only be worn again after 7 days. They are removed without touching the outside (i.e., over the retaining rubbers) and hung on a line or on hooks in a row. If more than one person is in the household, the rows should be spaced farther apart.

In addition, they should not be hung near other items so that the pathogens are not transferred to them. In addition, one should choose a place that is as dry as possible, such as the hallway or living room. The kitchen and bathroom are not suitable because of the increased humidity.

Dispose of properly and do not divide
No matter which method is used: After 5 cycles, it should be over. Then the mask is disposed of in the household waste. If a mask is defective, e.g. if it has holes, if the material dissolves in some other way or if you have been coughed on or sneezed on directly, the mask should be disposed of immediately. Even if you have worn the mask for a long period of several hours, for example on a long train journey, you should not continue to use it.

And even despite disinfection measures, a mask should never be used by more than one person.

Unlike fabric masks, FFP2 masks should not be boiled, steamed or washed in a washing machine or dishwasher. This would damage the materials and the mask is no longer safe.

Heating in a microwave oven should also be avoided. One reason for this is the nose clip, which is often made of metal. In addition, depending on how moist the mask is, the device generates different temperatures in different places. This prevents uniform disinfection and can cause material damage. A UV lamp would have to irradiate the mask from both sides to destroy viruses on the outside and inside. However, material damage can also occur here.

  • source: futurezone.at/picture: pixabay.com
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