UH professor presents idea on how to make face masks more COVID-19 efficient

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the recent White House announcement recommending almost all Americans to wear face coverings while away from home, now more than ever the demand for face masks has never been greater.

If you do not have access to one in your area, the CDC recently recommended wearing a homemade mask like a bandana or scarf. But would that be enough to protect you?

Professor of physics at the University of Houston, Dr. Seamus Curran, may have a solution for added protection.

His company Integricote developed a hydrophobic coating quite a few years ago to waterproof surfaces like masonry, wood and concrete.

But recently, he shifted his focus toward the fight against COVID-19.

"There's huge droplets of water vapor that contain the virus. So, even as you're breathing in and out, or you're talking to somebody, you're still emitting," Professor Curran said.

So, the professor and his team started thinking of ways to use their waterproofing formula on fabric masks.

The coating could improve the effectiveness on cheaper dust masks usually found at big box stores.

But what about masks made by individuals with sewing machines?

"If it gets wet or moist, even if it's not directly on your mouth, as you breathe in, you provide a force to allow that liquid to wick into your mouth. And as you do so, you're bringing in the virus," Curran said.

Coating the formula on those fabrics could prevent any liquid absorption. As of now, the professor and his team are waiting on the next phase of getting FDA approval.

"The people who've got the biggest contact with the FDA are the people who manufactured the masks. They know exactly the right people to go to, who know exactly the right test to carry out, to get this approval and fast track it," Curran said.
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