It's no secret that masks have become the hottest new accessories to wear this season. So it was only a matter of time before someone thought up an eco-friendly version as well. On Thursday, May 21, the University of British Columbia (UBC) announced that they've developed fully biodegradable Canadian N95 masks.
According to UBC's official statement, this completely compostable mask is made entirely from B.C. wood fibres, including that of cedar, pine, spruce, and other softwoods.
The researchers at UBC have been observing how the world has been fighting over medical masks.
The researchers' statement says that the shortage of medical masks has "hobbled health care professionals."
This is why they believed they needed to do something to strengthen the supply lines and manufacture masks in Canada itself.
"We knew early on we wanted a solution that uses local materials, is easy to produce and inexpensive, with the bonus of being compostable and biodegradable," said Johan Foster, a chemical and biological engineering Associate Professor at UBC.
And so the team found what they believe to be a solution: the Can-Mask, shortened from the lengthier name, "Canadian-Mask."
The mask is so named because it's 100% made in Canada, says the press release.
The team has produced and released a video detailing how they came up with the idea and how they went about developing it.
They have developed two prototypes of these masks so far.
Right now, the team is testing the prototypes to make sure that they meet health specifications in terms of fit and permeability.
They plan to apply for Health Canada certification in the "near future," stated the researchers.
The research team believes that this mask would make for a good alternative to the masks currently in use, the statement explains.
Since so many disposable masks and gloves are just being dropped on the streets, which then potentially endangers our rivers and oceans, Canada desperately needs a biodegradable option, said the researchers.
"The Can-Mask is just one of many opportunities for UBC researchers to help address an ongoing issue, while also stimulating B.C. and Canadian economies through novel research, use of local resources, and helping get everyone back to work," said Orlando Rojas, Scientific Director of the Bioproducts Institute at UBC.