DOST REwear face mask gets World Health Organization approval

DOST REwear face mask
REwear was developed by DOST-PTRI to be washable up to 50 times.

The REwear (Re-useable, Washable, Re-wearable) Face Masks of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST–PTRI) has been found to be in compliance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The cloth face mask is a DOST COVID 19 response project that seeks to produce 500,000 pieces to be donated to frontliners.

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REwear was designed to be “smarter” than ordinary face masks, having all of the benefits of a single-use medical grade mask but the reusability of a cloth mask. The REwear mask is washable and can be used up to 50 times.

Having a mask with so many claims raises the concern: is it effective? Face masks must comply with the latest WHO guidelines (updated on June 5, 2020) that include parameters like the type of material, breathability, number of layers, combinations of materials used, mask shape, and coating to ensure that they can offer ample breathability and protection for users.

DOST-PTRI shared on June 24 how the mask adheres to the W.H.O. guidelines.

The mask is composed of 4 layers of cotton-rich fabrics, with the inner layer being absorbent (hydrophilic), the middle layer with blended cotton fabric for filtration and the outer layer being water-repellent (hydrophobic) to repel liquid droplets that may contain microbes and viruses.

Lastly, the outer layer’s coating is made with textile treatment technology (made by the Smart Textiles R&D Program under DOST-PTRI) that enables the fabric to be water-repellent, yet still breathable. This technology involves silane compounds which are prepared into a nanosol or a solution that is applied onto a natural-fiber blended textile such as cotton fabrics.

PTRI Director Celia Elumba clarified that the REwear masks are not for sale and are instead distributed to frontliners of government agencies including security personnel.

Despite this unavailability to the public, the REwear mask technology adoption is open to textile processors and interested parties. DOST-PTRI released this kit that guides those who are interested to create masks that meet the WHO guidelines for effectiveness.

In creating the mask, DOST-PTRI took into consideration the flaws of the masks in current circulation and created an innovative mask without all of those.

There are also other resources for face mask creation aside from the REwear version. DOST-PTRI also released more face mask designs for public use and the University of the Philippines College of Home Economics released the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tutorials for face masks.

Not all masks are created equal and wearing an effective one is a huge factor in reducing the spread of COVID-19 as social distancing alone is not enough. As we experience the “new normal”, REwear will be a great addition in the tools to ensure safety.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to DOST-PTRI for sharing their research and development of a new type of mask that meets the WHO guidelines and also can be reused!

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