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Covid. Biodegradable masks made with milk waste. It will be possible thanks to the “SMascherATe” project which starts from the University of Catania

Covid. Biodegradable masks made with milk waste. It will be possible thanks to the “SMascherATe” project which starts from the University of Catania

by Carla Andrea Fundarotto

From milk waste it is possible to make masks against Covid-19 with zero environmental impact. This was revealed by the SMascherATe project, funded by the Ministry of University and Research. To develop it will be the University of Catania, that of Rome Tor Vergata and the Institute for the study of nanostructured materials of the CNR.

The negative environmental impact of masks

If masks are a necessary tool to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, it is also true that their incorrect disposal can cause significant environmental damage. In fact, each surgical mask alone releases approximately 173,000 microfibres into the environment.

Among the factors that mainly contribute to degrading surgical masks are solar radiation and mechanical stress induced by wave motion. A single mask, in fact, if exposed to UV-A light for 180 hours, can release hundreds of thousands of microparticles, which are harmful to the environment.

What does the new project envisage?

The new masks will be totally biodegradable and made of sustainable plastic obtained from milk waste, completely eliminating, as is the case at present, the use of plastic materials from non-sustainable and non-renewable sources.

“The SMascherATe project also provides for the creation of filters for face masks starting from waste from milk-based products and its derivatives, materials that, in addition to being of natural origin, are biodegradable – explains Nunzio Tuccitto, chemist-physicist of the Department of Chemical Sciences of the University of Catania and coordinator of the team of researchers of the University of Catania – therefore SMascherATe aims to solve both the problem of the non-sustainability of the raw material and that of the non-biodegradability of the current antidroplet masks “.

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