Are surgical masks manufactured from sterilisation wrap safe?

Sam E. Grigg*, Andrea Zampiron, Farzan Akbaridoust, Dileep Chandran, Natasha E. Holmes, Paul D.R. Johnson, Ivan Marusic, Daryl Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Due to regional shortages some health services have proposed using surgical masks manufactured from sterilisation wrap. However, there has been little assessment of the safety of this practice. Therefore, we developed our own prototypes and evaluated whether they met regulatory standards. Methods: Surgical mask prototypes were manufactured from two thickness grades of commercial sterilisation wrap. Safety was assessed in the context of regulatory standards. As it was not previously reported, we developed and performed differential pressure and synthetic blood penetration resistance experiments in accordance with official methodology. Results: Bacterial filtration efficiency was comparable between sterilisation wrap and commercial surgical masks. Both prototypes met regulatory standards for synthetic blood resistance, whilst only our thinner mask fulfilled acceptable differential pressure (‘breathability’) thresholds. Conclusion: Acceptable barrier and breathability properties can be achieved with surgical masks produced from sterilisation wrap. Therefore, this may be a reasonable method to supplement stock if required. Unless there are shortages mandating alternatives, health-care workers should always use approved personal protective equipment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-109
Number of pages6
JournalInfection, Disease and Health
Issue number2
Early online date19 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

Bibliographical note

University of Melbourne Department of Mechanical Engi- neering provided funding for the ingredients used to pre- pare the synthetic blood mixture.


  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Infection control
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Sterilisation wrap
  • Surgical masks


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