Using a rice cooker to “dry steam” surgical masks for three minutes can have a sterilizing effect, an experiment by Chung Shan Medical University Department of Occupational Safety and Health associate professor Lai Chane-yu (賴全裕) and his team showed.
However, after dry steaming, the mask would have a lower filter efficiency compared with new masks, Lai said on Monday, adding that the method should only be considered if there is an insufficient supply of masks or they need to be reused in an emergency.
The team conducted several tests for cleaning N95 respirators, and found that a 70 percent alcohol solution, bleach, high-pressure sterilization and rice cooker were all effective sterilization methods, Lai said.
Photo: Su Meng-chuan, Taipei Times
Dry steaming masks for three minutes using a rice cooker can kill up to 99.7 percent of germs, he said, adding that this method lowered the mask’s filter quality by the least — about 10 percent.
Soaking masks in alcohol or bleach for 10 minutes could lower their filter quality to 70 to 80 percent, he said, adding that the study was published in Indoor Air in 2018.
Lai said he also conducted a study using surgical masks and found that dry steaming them using a rice cooker was also more efficient than using alcohol or high-pressure sterilization.
Dry steaming the same mask five times gradually reduced its filter efficiency to 10 percent, he said.
When heating a mask, do not place it at the bottom of the cooker, where temperatures are high, he said, advising people to use a rack to support the inner pot containing the mask.
Masks can only be sterilized and reused if they have not been used in a hospital, do not contain too much saliva or other bodily fluids and are not damaged, he added.
A mask’s filter efficiency needs to be more than 80 percent to qualify, he said.
Asked about the tests, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that spraying alcohol or high-temperature drying might damage the structure of masks and affect their protective effect.
FDA researcher Wang Chao-yi (王兆儀) said that she had not seen the test data on high-
temperature drying and, as such, could not say whether the method was appropriate.
The FDA only reviews and approves masks for one-time use, she said.
Wang reminded people who are healthy that they do not need to wear masks in outdoor places or places with good ventilation, while people with chronic illnesses or respiratory symptoms and those who are visiting hospitals should wear masks.
BILINGUAL PLAN: The 17 educators were recruited under a program that seeks to empower Taiwanese, the envoy to the Philippines said The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines on Thursday hosted a send-off event for the first group of English-language teachers from the country who were recruited for a Ministry of Education-initiated program to advance bilingual education in Taiwan. The 14 teachers and three teaching assistants are part of the Taiwan Foreign English Teacher Program, which aims to help find English-language instructors for Taiwan’s public elementary and junior-high schools, the office said. Seventy-seven teachers and 11 teaching assistants from the Philippines have been hired to teach in Taiwan in the coming school year, office data showed. Among the first group is 57-year-old
Police have detained a Taoyuan couple suspected of over the past two months colluding with human trafficking rings and employment scammers in Southeast Asia to send nearly 100 Taiwanese jobseekers to Cambodia. At a media briefing in Taipei yesterday, the Criminal Investigation Bureau presented items seized from the couple, including alleged victims’ passports, forged COVID-19 vaccination records, mobile phones, bank documents, checks and cash. The man, surnamed Tsai (蔡), and his girlfriend, surnamed Tsan (詹), were taken into custody last month, after police at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport stopped four jobseekers from boarding a flight to Phnom Penh, said Dustin Lee (李泱輯),
‘ORDINARY PEOPLE’: A man watching Taiwanese military drills said that there would be nothing anyone could do if the situation escalates in the Taiwan Strait Many people in Taiwan look upon China’s military exercises over the past week with calm resignation, doubting that war is imminent and if anything, feeling pride in their nation’s determination to defend itself. After a visit to Taiwan last week by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, China has sent ships and aircraft across an unofficial buffer between Taiwan and China’s coast and missiles over Taipei and into waters surrounding the nation since Thursday last week. However, Rosa Chang, proudly watching her son take part in Taiwanese military exercises that included dozens of howitzers firing shells into the Taiwan Strait off
TRICKED INTO MOVING: Local governments in China do not offer any help, and Taiwanese there must compete with Chinese in an unfamiliar setting, a researcher said Beijing’s incentives for Taiwanese businesspeople to invest in China are only intended to lure them across the Taiwan Strait, after which they receive no real support, an expert said on Sunday. Over the past few years, Beijing has been offering a number of incentives that “benefit Taiwanese in name, while benefiting China in reality,” a cross-strait affairs expert said on condition of anonymity. Strategies such as the “31 incentives” are intended to lure Taiwanese talent, capital and technology to help address China’s economic issues while also furthering its “united front” efforts, they said. Local governments in China do not offer much practical