An international team of scientists and engineers has found that a polyamide (PA) fabric embedded with zinc ions successfully inactivated 99% of the viruses that cause Covid-19 and the common flu (influenza). The team consists of members of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge/UK, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY/USA, ResInnova Labs, Silver Spring, MD/USA, and Ascend Performance Materials LLC, Houston, TX/USA. Face masks, protective clothing and filters are used to slow the spread of viruses.
However, poor-quality masks can harbor active viruses from infected wearers, posing a transmission risk. A major challenge is absorption and inactivation. Polypropylene (PP), the material in commonly used disposable masks, is a hydrophobic plastic and does not absorb moisture. Instead, the viruses can sit on the surface of the mask, posing a transmission risk when the mask is handled.