Although my research supports the idea that heating face masks up to 60Cº kills all bacteria, the next step was to back this up through...
As our fight against the pandemic continues, another issue has arisen - did you know that around 129 billion face masks are disposed of per month? As most disposable face masks are made out of Type 5 plastic (polypropylene), this creates a huge waste problem. However, most masks can actually be sanitized and reused. This not only cuts waste, but is a great help to people with low incomes. Mask sanitizing is both economically and environmentally sustainable. SolarMask is a youth-led STEMxSDG initiative that aims to offer an affordable and scalable solution to reuse face masks through a solar disinfection method. This is aimed at both lower income families in developed countries or for those in countries at lower levels of development with little access to vaccines or mask supplies. At the same time it addresses disposable face mask pollution by reducing the need for new masks. A website includes clear step-by-step instructions on how to construct a solar oven using household materials or how to use existing solar ovens for this purpose.
My project aims to address SDG Goal #3 as it is intended to allow individuals in developing countries to avoid spreading and contracting COVID by promoting the use of face masks. One of the main targets of this sustainable development goal is to "Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks." Furthermore, by enabling people to reuse disposable face masks in a safe and affordable way, it addresses this target by contributing to risk management and reduction in developing countries.
One of the main targets of this goal is: "By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations." Furthermore, by offering an affordable and sustainable solution to give access to face masks, it gives those in developing countries the ability to minimize their expenditures that would have been used on disposable face masks.
One of the primary reasons I started this project was to minimize disposable face masks pollution in the ocean. A key target of SDG #14 is "By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution." By giving individuals the ability to safely reuse disposable face masks, it minimizes face mask pollution in the ocean.