Emergency 'Skuba' mask validated for healthcare use

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Multidisciplinary project from Alicante University (UA) Artefactos recently validated the emergency "Skuba" mask for healthcare use. In light of the infection speed of the COVID-19 virus and the lack of certified protective equipment, at Artefactos they have developed and manufactured an emergency breathing mask by adapting a commercial snorkel mask. If a healthcare worker or a health center needs protection, they can fill out a form to obtain an adaptor.

We have adapted the Easybreath mask from company Decathlon, creating an adaptor to insert one or two exchangeable HEPA particle filters (commercial and certified filters). This adaptor is manufactured with a material that makes the system totally airtight, thus preventing external contamination."

Javier Esclapés, UA Engineering doctor and Artefactor coordinator

After conducting different validation tests in collaboration with experts from the Hospital General of Alicante, this association has obtained highly satisfactory results. Specifically, the product has been disinfected to the highest level (chemically and via autoclave) and the material has maintained its properties intact. Thus, the scientific team of Artefactos comprised by doctors and researchers in biomedicine, engineering and industrial design, makes available to healthcare workers open source adaptations and integral masks for urgent individual protection that prevent new infections due to COVID-19.

"It is worth stressing that this idea emerged from the need of a healthcare emergency and to be used in healthcare facilities to ensure that professionals have an emergency mask when faced with difficult situations, when they do not have access to official medical supplies. Therefore, it is worth repeating that nor the mask nor the adapter are certified and their use is subject to situations of urgent need, when there is no possible alternative to guarantee the safety of the healthcare surroundings," highlights the UA researcher.

In this sense, the Artefactos coordinator notes "the scientific level behind these products that have been duly tested, with good capabilities and guarantees of use. An optimal design has been found that provides a solution to prevent leaks. It is essential to take into account that users will use them throughout lengthy working days, which is why they have two filters and an anti-fog system. Furthermore, they have been printed in a high-quality technical material, among other aspects taken into account to guarantee their functionality and safety."

Javier Esclapés recognizes the charitable work behind the Artefactos team and clarifies that "our initiative, research and development is totally absent of profit-making intention". "The 3D printing must not only be charitable, but also responsible. Not all types of homemade printing materials can be used to create snorkel mask adaptors, respirators, without the safety of the pieces being scientifically verified," he concludes.

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