As the country looms to the threat of COVID-19 and at the same time experiences scarcity of medical resources last year, fabric Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) started emerging as the alternative. With that, the local fashion Industry in Iloilo took the initiative and effort to provide free PPEs using locally available fabrics for the frontliners.

Although the PPEs can be washed, disinfected, and used repeatedly, the durability span and deterioration rate of the material are still undetermined.

Recently, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region VI, through the Western Visayas Health Research and Development Consortium (WVHRDC), funded the project “Ultrastructural and Biophysical Characterization of Commonly Used Alternative Textiles for Hazmat Suits and Face Masks” of Mr. Patrick John B. Jalandoni from The Medical City Iloilo.

The WVHRDC, one of the consortia of DOST Region VI, strengthens the system of health research collaboration in Western Visayas to develop and enhance the capacity of institutions within the region engaged and with interest in health research as a strategy to improve the current health conditions.

With an approved fund of Php351,000, the study aims to describe and compare the fabrics used for PPEs through its breathability, filtration capacity, and permeability. Moreover, it also targets to provide local baseline information as to which fabrics will be best suited for the creation of local manufactured PPEs.

Started last January 4, 2021, the study also collaborated with Iloilo Science and Technology University for the selection and collection of 20 identified fabrics samples to be tested.

The study will proceed with the tests by using an Improvised Henderson Apparatus (IHA) to determine the fabrics’ permeability and breathability. Also, the fabric samples were sent to University of the Philippines Visayas – Regional Research Center for morphological analysis.

The results of the study will allow the public to be more guided as to which fabric material they should look for when buying PPEs as well as help the community in mitigating and controlling not just COVID-19 but also the spread of communicable diseases. (JJMoleño/SSalazar/DOST VI-KMU)