BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE works to develop and implement sustainability-based solutions to preserve land and sea environmental quality in Europe. Given the current global challenge imposed upon all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic, the project aims to facilitate sharing knowledge about the protective potential of face masks as well as the environmental impacts that may arise from the inappropriate disposal.
To increase our impact, our team at HAW Hamburg has developed a social media filter to visually experience a science-based comparison of different face masks available in the market.
With the first filter (“protection”), it is possible to virtually "wear" each face mask and see how each type protects you (self-protection) and those around you (third-party protection).
In the video below, our project manager Maren Fendt (HAW Hamburg, Germany) shows us how this filter works by "wearing" a bio-based mask.
The filter “protection” gives the user a visual demonstration of how effective each type of mask is. To illustrate distinct degrees of effectiveness, the filter refers to the bacterial filtration efficiency (FE) when you close your mouth (exhale) and the total inwards leakage (TIL) when you open the mouth (inhale).
The Filtration Efficiency (FE) is the percentage of particles that cannot pass through (in to out) the filter in the mask when it is tightly fitted – this measures the self-protection provided by the mask.
The Total Inward Leakage (TIL) is an estimate, measuring the leakage of contaminants through the mask under laboratory conditions – in this sense, the mask acts as a measure for third party protection.
The filter “protection” illustrates each parameter visually by means of animated particles floating around you. Moreover, the respective percentage of effectiveness appears over your head.
The second filter (“biodegradability”) shows how long it takes for different mask types to biodegrade under natural conditions, in case they end up in the environment by mistake. By means of the filter, it is possible to pose a virtual pile of either cotton masks, medical masks, FFP2 masks or bio-based PLA masks in your surrounding environment. Shortly after it will be illustrated how much time it would take for them to degrade. Have a look at the demo-video below to see how this filter works.
The numbers which we used for this filter were derived from trustworthy science-based sources. Nevertheless, they are estimated since level of degradation essentially depends on various parameters such as temperature, humidity, material composition, thickness of the layers which may vary and therefore influence the rate of degradation.
Table: comparison of the effectiveness and time needed for decomposition of different kinds of face masks.
The references which we used can be inspected by clicking below:
1. Grinshpun SA, Haruta H, Eninger RM, Reponen T, McKay RT, Lee SA: Performance of an N95 filtering facepiece particulate respirator and a surgical mask during human breathing: two pathways for particle penetration. J Occup Environ Hyg 2009, 6(10):593-603.
2. Perić R, Perić M: Analytical and numerical investigation of the airflow in face masks used for protection against COVID-19 virus -- implications for mask design and usage. JAFM 13 2020.
3. Steinle, s., Sleeuwenhoek, a., Mueller, w., Horwell, c. J., Apsley, a., Davis, a., Cherrie, j. W. & Galea, k. S. 2018. The effectiveness of respiratory protection worn by communities to protect from volcanic ash inhalation. Part II: total inward leakage tests. International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 221, 977-984.
4. EUROPEAN COMMITTEE FOR STANDARDIZATION 2019. Medical face masks – Requirements and test methods; English version EN 14683:2019+AC:2019, English translation of DIN EN 14683:2019-10 European Committee for Standardization.
5. Steinle, s., Sleeuwenhoek, a., Mueller, w., Horwell, c. J., Apsley, a., Davis, a., Cherrie, j. W. & Galea, k. S. 2018. The effectiveness of respiratory protection worn by communities to protect from volcanic ash inhalation. Part II: total inward leakage tests. International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 221, 977-984
5. Deutsches Institut für Normung e. V. (DIN). (2019). Medizinische Gesichtsmasken – Anforderungen und Prüfverfahren;Englische Fassung EN 14683:2019+AC:2019, Englische Übersetzung von DIN EN 14683:2019-10.
6. Smith S, Ozturk M, Frey M (2021) Soil biodegradation of cotton fabrics treated with common finishes. Cellulose 28: 1-10
7. Greenpeace (2020). Petition fordert priorisierung der stoffmasken-produktion.
8. 3Dnatives (2019). Is PLA filament actually biodegradable?
Technical development was conducted by Ms. Paulina Porten, who is an expert in Communication Design, originally graduated from HAW Hamburg. Since 2018 she has been working intensively with Augmented Reality (AR) and focuses on the new emerging fields of application as well as a responsible use of this technology. Currently she is obtaining her master’s degree in Integrated at KISD Cologne.
For further information, please have a look on the website: Paulina Porten.
Ms. Maren Fendt was responsible for developing the concept of AR-filters and greatly supported the BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE team by overseeing technical and scientific research aspects. Ms. Fendt graduated in the field of Health Sciences at the Hochschule Furtwangen University (HFU) and she currently works at the HAW Hamburg’s Research and Transfer Centre Sustainable Development and Climate Change Management (FTZ-NK) , closely collaborating with BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE team. Her background in public health and expertise in efficiency of face-masks led her to develop the scientific basis for the filters produced. Ms. Fendt’s contribution was supported by the HAWs funding program for young researchers.
For further information, please have a look on the website: Maren Fendt, HAW Hamburg.