Peter Tsai, the man credited for inventing the N95 mask, had retired for over two years when coronavirus outbreak triggered. Tsai has since come out of his retirement to help healthcare workers and has been working, in his own way, to curb the virus.
"I felt I need to - I need to help the health workers," Tsai said to CNN in an interview. "You know, they put their lives at risk. What I know can help them," he added
Tsai, a Taiwanese American scientist, invented the N95 masks back in 1995. The N95 masks are made using synthetic fibre and are considered by many health professionals to be the most effective barrier against the spread of COVID-19.
Tsai said that the N95 mask blocks 95% of the particles that it comes in contact with. Tsai made the filters of the mask using the corona electrostatic charging method. Using this method, the filters gain both positive and negative charge. The mask then attracts neutral particles, like bacteria from viruses. It polarises those particles, trapping them before they can pass through the mask.
Tsai said that he made the decision to get back to work after he heard that the doctors and nurses at American hospitals were facing supply shortages for masks and other PPE.
Now, back from retirement, Tsai has been working at the University of Tenessee, Knoxville's Research Foundation. He is currently testing new methods to sterilise masks. According to him, the best one yet is to keep the mask in 160-degree dry heat for 30 minutes before next use.
However, Tsai recommends that people should buy seven N95 masks and use one for each day of the week, After using they should place the mask in an isolated spot for seven days. Tsai said that even if citizens are not able to procure N95 masks they should wear masks in public none the less.
"Some people said, 'I don't care. I do not need to wear a mask,'" he said. "That is very selfish because you expose your germs to other people. So any mask is good," he added.