The outbreak of COVID-19 has spread rapidly across the globe, greatly affecting how humans as a whole interact, work and go about their daily life. One of the key pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is being utilised to return to the norm is the face mask or respirator. In this review we aim to examine face masks and respirators, looking at the current materials in use and possible future innovations that will enhance their protection against SARS-CoV-2. Previous studies concluded that cotton, natural silk and chiffion could provide above 50% efficiency. In addition, it was found that cotton quilt with a highly tangled fibrous nature provides efficient filtration in the small particle size range. Novel designs by employing various filter materials such as nanofibres, silver nanoparticles, and nano-webs on the filter surfaces to induce antimicrobial properties are also discussed in detail. Modification of N95/N99 masks to provide additional filtration of air and to deactivate the pathogens using various technologies such as low-temperature plasma is reviewed. Legislative guidelines for selecting and wearing facial protection are also discussed. The feasibility of reusing these masks will be examined as well as a discussion on the modelling of mask use and the impact wearing them can have. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) models and its applications to minimise or prevent the spread of the virus using face masks and respirators is also addressed. It is concluded that a significant amount of research is required for the development of highly efficient, reusable, anti-viral and thermally regulated face masks and respirators.
ASJC Scopus subject areas