The opportunities for cotton in life-saving applications are increasingly prominent.Thanks to COVID-19, advanced products involving cotton and its blends are gaining traction in the non-commodity market space.As the COVID-19 wave recedes and many U.S. states relax mask recommendations, it's important to understand the role face coverings that provide varying degrees of protection during a pandemic.The CDC is also expected to ease its mask recommendations in the coming weeks.
Face masks have been a controversial product for nearly two years, and they have played an important role in containing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants.Before a vaccine, even some in the medical community saw masks as an "alternative vaccine."During the first wave of COVID-19, the use of masks and other countermeasures, such as physical distancing, hand washing, and other hygiene measures, provided necessary safety measures and, where appropriate, additional safety when vaccinations accelerated.Masks are one of the key tools in your toolbox to fight infections caused by airborne microbes.The public has become aware of different types of masks and their applications, not only to combat COVID-19, but also to combat air pollution, which has become a major problem in major world cities such as New Delhi and Shanghai.
Using different versions of the mask really highlights the use of cotton and its blends.While in the public domain the technical details may not be much discussed, of course, the technical advantages of cellulose-based materials for medical and personal protection have gained support and interest among stakeholders from manufacturers to fashion designers.
Haripriya Ramesh, a doctoral student in Texas Tech's Department of Environmental Toxicology, who wears face coverings in indoor public spaces such as classrooms, said the cotton face coverings are comfortable and make them safe and comfortable to wear.
As the Omicron wave peaks in late fall 2021, the medical community underscores the need for high-quality masks like the N95.N95s and other filtering facepiece respirators provide the highest level of protection required when experiencing higher levels of transmission.
Other manufacturing strategies that combine nonwoven face masks with multi-layer cotton face coverings may be helpful in communities outside of highly vulnerable settings such as hospitals and healthcare facilities.In all of these cases, fit is important.Using a cotton face mask as a combination can provide near-skin comfort if the combination structure provides a good fit.
This alternative masking strategy, which takes into account filtration, fit and comfort, evolved from two years of class discussions and research in the Texas Tech University Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Lab.When combined with a three-layer non-woven surgical mask, more than two layers of cotton multi-layer mask are required to provide good protection.
Graduate students participated in PPE studies and analysis of infection and vaccination rates as part of the Texas Tech graduate-level course "Toxin Countermeasures."It is clear that courses in dealing with protracted crises produce timely and valuable deliverables.These activities also reinforce the course material based on relevance and ongoing research, adding value to the course.
COVID-19 has deepened our understanding that functional cotton textile materials play a vital role in medical, hygiene and personal protection applications.
Stakeholders in cotton, textiles and materials must focus on non-commodity applications and support much-needed research and development in advanced materials.
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar is a professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University.
Post time: Feb-20-2022