EMS Webinar 05/05/21

Our next webinar will be on May 5th at 4:00 PM Central European Time, via our EMS Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBzUqWLIW-VXIDGLgI8QpiA.


Title: Surgical masks testing: a multidisciplinary approach led by membrane scientists


Abstract: The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic highlighted the lack of masks and personal protective equipment, which represents the main defense available against COVID-19. The masks shortage was dramatic in Italy, the first European country hit by the pandemic. To address the emergency and to support the Italian industrial reconversion to produce surgical masks a multidisciplinary group of the University of Bologna created a laboratory to test surgical mask according to the European regulations. The group, driven by the expertise of the membrane group of DICAM, built the test lines to perform all the functional tests required. Chemical engineers, microbiologists and occupational medicine were part of the team. In Europe, surgical masks must be labelled with the CE mark and meet the requirements defined in EN14683:2019 and in EN ISO 10993-1. Four testing lines were assembled to perform the required tests, namely breathability, bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE), bioburden and splash test (for masks type II R). According to EN 14683:2019, the experimental workflow starts with the breathability test, which is the easiest though fundamental and helps to immediately exclude non suitable materials on the basis of the air permeability. Suitable masks are then tested for BFE, which provides indication on the filtration capabilities towards droplets like the breathing aerosol, and for microbial cleanliness. The chemico-physical properties of the constituent materials are also characterized and correlated to the breathability and BFE results. For masks of type II R the resistance to blood penetration is determined with the splash test with synthetic blood. Attempts to optimize and improve the protocols for masks validation looking at more advanced techniques that, if reliable and fast, could be proposed for the modification of the current test standard. The Laboratory started its activity on March 24th. As of Dec 31st 2020 602 prototypes were tested, with nearly 1200 tests performed in total. A critical analysis of the results will be presented, moreover results of long run tests to investigate the life of surgical masks with use will be discussed.


Speaker: Cristiana Boi, Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering University of Bologna, Italy

Cristiana Boi is Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University of Bologna, Italy and Adjunct Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, USA. She graduated in Chemical Engineering in 1991 and received her PhD in Chemical Engineering in1996, winning the EMS Award for the best PhD thesis in the membrane field in Europe in that year. She has been the President of the European Membrane Society, EMS, (2017-18) and she is the Secretary of the World Association of Membrane Societies, WA-MS, (2017-20). Her research activity is in the field of membrane and chromatographic separations, in particular regarding the preparation, modification and characterization of functional materials for bioseparations and water purification. The main focus is on the fundamental aspects of the different processes considered and on their possible applications. Current projects involve the purification of gene therapy vectors, of extracellular vesicles (EVs), the removal of toxins and small molecules from blood and water streams, and the production of novel chromatographic media. In March 2020,Professor Cristiana Boi has funded the University of Bologna Surgical Masks Testing Lab and she is currently leading a research group involved in the characterization and testing of materials and facemasks. Cristiana Boi has published more than 35 articles in high impact peer reviewed journals, she presented more than 100 papers at international conferences and she has been invited to present seminars at several universities and companies around the world. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal Membranes and she is act as a reviewer for the most relevant scientific journals on her research area.