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Which mask type is most effective for handling anticancer drug?

06 Oct 2020

Measurement of the leak rate of masks used in anticancer drug handling confirms a significant difference, with the cup-type activated carbon mask showing effectiveness based on its low leak rate, suggest the results of a study.

The investigators tested activated carbon and nonactivated carbon masks of the pleated-type (like surgical mask) and cup-type. Four pharmacists wore the masks and a fitting tester was employed. Particle count (outside – inside)/outside x 100 (%) was used to calculate the reduction rate of particles in ambient air. Leak rate was calculated as the difference in the reduction rate due to the presence of absence of a seal in the mask surroundings.

The pleated-type nonactivated carbon mask had a much lower reduction rate than the pleated-type activated carbon mask (mean, 14.8 percent vs 34.8 percent). When mask surroundings were sealed, the values increased substantially to 85.6 percent and 83.3 percent, respectively.

The cup-type nonactivated and activated carbon masks had corresponding particle reduction rates of 99.3 percent and 33.6 percent. Upon sealing the mask surroundings, these values were 99.6 percent and 39.2, respectively.

The corresponding leak rates of pleated-type nonactivated carbon mask, pleated-type activated carbon mask, cup-type nonactivated carbon mask, and cup-type activated carbon mask were as follows: 70.8 percent, 48.5 percent, 0.3 percent, and 5.6 percent.

“Exposure to inhalation of anticancer drugs is frequent in anticancer drug handling,” the investigators said. “Mask fitting performance is important because low fitting performance leads to inhalation via bypassing the mask filter (leak).”

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