Tag Archives: PPE

New coating could improve medical gear by making the coronavirus slide right off

New research at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has created a textile material that can repel liquids such as blood or saliva and prevent viruses from adhering, to boot.

An illustration of the new coating in action textile’s ability to repel fluids. Credit: University of Pittsburgh

The team hopes that their work can lead the way to improved personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks or gowns to keep both doctors and patients safe.

Keeping the bugs out

“Recently there’s been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability,” said Anthony Galante, a Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt and lead author of the paper. “We want to push the boundary on what is possible with these types of surfaces, and especially given the current pandemic, we knew it’d be important to test against viruses.”

PPE is at a premium throughout the world right now, but our current gear isn’t the best it could be. The textiles used in gowns and other similar material does eventually soak up viruses and bacteria, and spreads them as medical personnel go about their work.

The material created at the LAMP Lab should provide better viral insulation than currently-available textiles, while also allowing for medical equipment to be used for longer because it doesn’t soak up pathogens — which will also help with shortages.

The coating they developed is resistant to ultrasonic washing, scrubbing, and scraping, so it doesn’t lose efficiency when worn or cleaned. Other similar coatings that are available today aren’t resistant in the same way, which limits their lifetime.

“The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it,” said Paul Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, who leads the LAMP Lab.

“Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.”

The team tested their coating through tens of ultrasonic washing cycles, thousands of rotations with a scrubbing pad, and scrapings with a razor blade, and reported that the material remained just as effective after every test.

Then they examined how efficiently it can repel human adenoviruses 4 and 7, which cause acute respiratory disease and conjunctivitis — and it successfully prevented these from adhering to the textile, as well.

“Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life—keeping kids out of school and parents out of work,” said Robert Shanks, the Director of Basic Research at the Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory, who collaborated on the research.

“This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.”

Although the findings so far are encouraging, the team has yet to test their coating against the coronavirus, but they say that this is the next step in their research.

The coating is applied using drop-casting, a method that saturates the material with a solution from a syringe and applies a heat treatment to increase stability. The team is also working on adapting it for use through spraying or dipping to enable its use for mass-production of larger items such as gowns.

The paper “Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles,” has been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Is this what airline cabin crew suits might look like from now on?

AirAsia has a new uniform designed to protect flight attendants and passengers. At first glance, it seems more like hospital gear than an airline uniform, but this could, in fact, give us a glimpse of what the future may have in store for airlines.

The new uniforms feature face masks, long sleeves, gloves, and face shields. Image credits: Puey Quinones / Instagram

The new uniform looks more like personal protective equipment (PPE) than corporate fashion, but it can go a long way to protect both employees and travelers.

Travel was one of the first industries to collapse in the COVID-19 pandemic. In between travel bans, quarantines, and a well-justified reluctance to travel, few people boarded a plane unless they really needed to.

Now, as the world is having one eye on the disease and another on reopening the economy, airlines find themselves in a very delicate situation: how do you ensure the safety of both passengers and cabin crew in a tight metal box thousands of meters above the ground?

Several ideas have discussed, including eliminating the middle seat, installing plexiglass protective screens, and enforcing temperature controls for both passengers and crew.

The low-cost carrier AirAsia has recently unveiled new uniforms. The uniforms were produced by Puey Quinones, an LA-based designer.

Image credits: Puey Quinones / Instagram.

The PPE suits were launched during a recovery flight from Bangkok to Manila. They feature the airline’s signature red-hot color and have reportedly already been approved by the Philippines’ Department of Health.

Flight attendants will be required to wear the PPE on all of the carrier’s flights, both domestic and international.

Image credits: Puey Quinones / Instagram

The new uniforms feature face shields, hoods, long pants and sleeves, and consist of a “breathable, yet sturdy material”.

“While you are in the aircraft, you’ll be happy to know that all our cabin crew will be wearing protective equipment including masks and gloves,” said AirAsia’s chief safety officer Ling Liong Tien on AirAsia’s website.

As the carrier prepares to resume some flights, they will also adopt other measures, such as asking travelers to wear their own face masks before, during, and after the flight, as well as for the baggage carousels.

Guests without a mask will be denied boarding, the company said. Another measure AirAsia has announced is the mandatory temperature checks at boarding gates.