by Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University
It has been one month since the information about the new strain of coronavirus became public. Front pages of newspapers and television screens have glaring images of face masks worn by people in China; the single-use face masks have spunmelt and carded filter substrates and have been in demand in China since the outbreak.
With the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent announcement that this outbreak is a global emergency, containment measures are receiving increasing attention, including vaccine development. As of Jan. 30, there have been 170 deaths in China due to this outbreak, and the infection has spread to 18 countries.
According to medical experts, a primary mode of spread of this new coronavirus is by airborne transmission. Good hygiene such as hand washing is strongly advised. Face masks can help with the containment of airborne infection, depending on their level of protection. Nonwoven wipes can also be a good aide for personal hygiene.
“Filters will play a part in slowing or stopping the spread of the coronavirus in hospitals and other building that utilize high MERV 13-and-above-rated filters to remove the virus which is airborne from the air. Other filters include face masks, which can stop the transmission of the virus through coughing and sneezing when other people are within a 3-6 foot radius,” said Chris Plotz, director of education and technical affairs at INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, based in Cary, N.C.
Nonwoven substrates play an important role in human health and environmental protection. When toxic chemical attacks happened, FiberTect decontamination wipes marketed by Chantilly, Va.-based First Line Technology proved extremely useful. After the 2010 BP oil spill in the United States, several nonwoven wipe technologies emerged, including Towelie™, an environmentally friendly nonwoven-based oil-absorbent technology. In hospitals, while treating infected personnel, caregivers use different types of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D, CText, FTI (U.K.), FTA (Honorary), is a professor at the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA.