N95 mask inventor comes out of retirement to join fight against COVID-19

The materials scientist who invented the N95 mask—the piece of personal protective equipment that has become essential in…

The materials scientist who invented the N95 mask—the piece of personal protective equipment that has become essential in the fight against COVID-19—is back in action.

His name is Peter Tsai, and his retirement doesn’t look like that of most 68-year-olds. He left the workforce two years ago, but today, he is right back in the swing of things as the world asks him for his help.

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating huge mask shortages, everyone is wondering how to make do. How do we produce more masks more quickly, and how can masks be reused?

Those most pressed by these questions turned to Peter Tsai, asking for his guidance.

So, he jumped back in to work to try to find new solutions. He told the Washington Post that he “started working almost 20 hours a day” with these new goals, and almost all of these hours he logged were volunteer work. He is going above and beyond for little to no pay to make a difference.

In April, he and Dr. Pascal S.C. Juang published a report in The Journal of Emergency Medicine about “cleaning and reusing” the N95 mask.

The big question is how to clean the masks without affecting their ability to filter particles. A new solution, courtesy of Tsai? Using dry heat to bring the masks up to a temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit and keep them there for an hour.

Tsai has also offered suggestions for homemade personal protective equipment. Homemade masks are less protective than N95 masks, but as we save N95 masks for health-care workers who are on the front lines in this fight against disease, we can make our own masks with nonwoven fabrics. Car shop towels are Tsai’s recommendation.

The diligent and benevolent inventor has continued to work on finding more answers since his first report in April.

Article source: Washington Post

Featured image source: Kathy Tsai

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