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Would layers of microfiber cloth work as an effective N95 air filter substitute? Answered

Hello, as many of you know, there are some devastating fires in California right now. My family and friends live nearby to these fires, and are being exposed to toxic levels of smoke and air pollution. Due to the disaster situation, many stores that sell n95 masks have sold out or are price gouging people who need them. I have been trying to figure out an effective solution where they could use household materials to approximate the particulate filtering properties of the n95 filter.

I was thinking they could make some kind of respirator style mask with the main face mask made of cardboard and duct tape, ad make a "cartridge" for the mask out of a cardboard cylinder stuffed with layers of microfiber cleaning cloth, or potentially other air filtering material, or even activated charcoal if it is available.

I understand that such filters are not an ideal substitute but when the air is completely off the scale for toxicity, anything is better than nothing.

Does anyone have any input on this? Is this worthwhile at all? Is there another commonly available material that you would reccomend other than microfiber cleaning cloths?

-ilpug

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ThisIsMyNameOK
ThisIsMyNameOK

8 months ago

I have been researching potential materials to make n95 equivalent masks for weeks now. Basically what I have learned so far is that there is no shortage of heat blown non-woven fabrics to choose from. The real problem is not being able to test the filtration. However, any mask made with polypropylene is likely to provide better protection than plain cotton alone. One thing to consider is if the material is safe to use. For example, some vacuum cleaner bags/filters contain fibreglass, which can get into your lungs.

The other important feature of an n95 mask is of course the fit, but a simple fit test is relatively easy to do. It may not be as accurate without the proper equipment but, again, it's still better than nothing.

An interesting study was recently published that showed adding nylon stockings over DIY masks improves filtration significantly. They used n95 and surgical masks as the baseline. It has not been peer reviewed and more testing is needed, but it's simple, affordable and it can't hurt. Here's a link if anyone is interested:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.17.20069567v3

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suggahsosweet
suggahsosweet

Reply 9 months ago

Toolbox shop towels may have wood fibers in them. Cause inhalation issues

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suggahsosweet
suggahsosweet

Reply 9 months ago

Hey, after doing my research the shopntowels may be harmful

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Angie Smith
Angie Smith

9 months ago

I finally found a filter fabric which protects 95%, same as an N95. It is a company in Texas by the name of Airfilters Incorporated. The fabric is pricy, especially when you add on a hefty shipping fee, but I was happy to find it and want to make my masks as protective as possible. It comes in 100 ft. rolls 53" wide. It will make about 1000 N95 masks for roughly $200 (including shipping).

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suggahsosweet
suggahsosweet

Reply 9 months ago

Hey, I've been trying to find a good option. Air filters was one of them until I discovered alot of hepa filters have fiberglass in them. Please check your filters or call the company.

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shawnta.cermeno
shawnta.cermeno

Reply 9 months ago

Angie Smith, can you please tell me which product you purchased? Thanks! :)

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BrianW305
BrianW305

9 months ago

Long after the n95 masks were gone I was able to buy p100 masks and filters for work. A p100 filters more particulate than n95. Look for some p100 filters, they usually have a solid style face mask with replaceable cartridges. For in the home and more comfort buy a 20in box fan for each room and attach a 20x20 hepa filter to the outlet side of the fan. I tie rubber bands together to make them long enough to hold the filter to the fan. The make shift filters will filter the air in the house.

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Barbara Niemann
Barbara Niemann

10 months ago

I wonder that too. I can get 50 micron that was used to make filters for cleaning machines

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WendyG74
WendyG74

10 months ago

Cardboard is probably not a good choice as COVID-19 can live up to 72 hours on cardboard...