UBC researchers develop biodegradable medical mask for COVID-19


Made in Canada design uses local wood fibres and can be produced in B.C.

The shortage of medical grade masks worldwide has hobbled health care professionals responding to the novel coronavirus—highlighting the need for improving supply lines and manufacturing more masks locally.

Researchers in the BioProducts Institute at the University of British Columbia have stepped up to the challenge, designing what could be the very first N95 mask that can be sourced and made entirely in Canada. It’s also possibly the world’s first fully compostable and biodegradable medical mask.

“With escalating tensions during a pandemic, international supply lines for medical masks can break down, creating local shortages,” says researcher Johan Foster, a chemical and biological engineering associate professor in the faculty of applied science. “When we decided to design a mask back in March, we knew early on we wanted a solution that uses local materials, is easy to produce and inexpensive, with the added bonus of being compostable and biodegradable.”