Whether and how protective clothing and utensils can be reused against droplet infections is currently part of the public debate. But despite the increased incidence of infection and associated supply bottlenecks, the medical community has been hesitant to respond as reliable protection for reusable textiles must first be proven.
As part of a study conducted by OHB System AG, Bremen/Germany, the measuring instrument manufacturer Krüss GmbH, Hamburg/Germany, and Dastex Reinraumzubehör GmbH & Co. KG, Muggensturm/Germany, materials with very good liquid-repellent properties, as required for shielding infectious droplets, were investigated. The Krüss contact angle method, which was the focus of the study, proved to be valid and can potentially be used as an easily accessible method for testing medical protective clothing.
The textiles under investigation are currently used for cleanroom clothing in satellite manufacturing, where they primarily protect the environment. For potential medical use, the fabrics were given a hydrophobic PTFE coating. This modification ideally prevents wetting by infectious droplets and their absorption so that they fall off or evaporate on the surface. The detection of such hydrophobic properties by means of contact angle measurement technology is fast, simple and can also be carried out on a mobile basis.
There is still a long way to go before medical facilities can switch to reusable protective clothing. But it is certainly worthwhile, not only for ecological reasons and in the event of supply bottlenecks. Doctors and nurses could benefit from more comfortable and breathable protective clothing.