[HOT] : Surgical masks still effective after several machine passes, confirms a French study

Surgical masks can be worn after several machine passes, confirm French researchers in a study published on October 11. This should make it possible to limit the waste linked to the Covid-19 crisis.

Discard your surgical mask after several hours of use. This is the recommendation heard by all French people since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the objective being to guarantee optimal effectiveness against the virus. However, this gesture is neither economical nor ecological. But a French study published in the scientific journal Chemosphere on October 11 could be a game-changer.

According to researchers from the universities of Grenoble, Lyon, Lorraine and even the CNRS, surgical masks retain their filtration performance well after several passes in the machine. Polypropylene masks can be washed up to ten times, “without any degradation of their filtration or breathability properties,” confirms the team of scientists after carrying out numerous laboratory tests.

“We stopped at ten washes as part of our study but we can imagine doing more,” assures the newspaper Le Monde Philippe Cinquin, scientific coordinator of the Clinical Investigation Center of the University Hospital of Grenoble. “Then come up with a simple rule: throw away your mask when its appearance shows that it is damaged and that it no longer fits well on the face.”

40,000 tonnes of non-recycled waste

These washed-out masks still offer better protection than cloth ones, the researchers say, and have achieved the Afnor certification. It now remains to convince the health authorities to change the regulations in force, which prohibit the reuse of masks, in order to be able to promote them.

“The reuse of masks in the general public, in industry or in hospitals (not in surgery) has significant advantages for waste management without degrading the safety of individuals wearing reused masks”, underline the French researchers. According to a fact-finding mission on the treatment of used masks led by deputies Danielle Brulebois and Gérard Leseul, between 6.8 and 13.7 billion single-use masks were used in France in 2020.

Quoting the Directorate General for Risk Prevention (DGPR), MEPs indicate that “the covid-19 epidemic is responsible for the production of around 40,000 tonnes of non-recycled waste in 2020 in France“.