BENGALURU : There seems to be an answer to the disposal of polypropylene Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits -- a biodegradable kit. With disposal of PPE kits increasingly becoming a challenge, a particular type of biodegradable material was proposed by a Bengaluru college at a recent innovation challenge on Covid-19.
The Government Dental College and Research Institute (GDCRI) proposed the idea at a hackathon recently hosted by the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Disposal of PPE kits has been a challenge ever since the pandemic started. PPEs are not worn by healthcare professionals alone, but also by the public. Every day, nearly 3 lakh kits are produced in India. Hence, we pitched the idea to produce biodegradable kits. Our proposal was liked by the judges and we were awarded," said research member Dr Biji Brigit, who is also associate professor with the department of conservative dentistry.
The Central Pollution Control Board has issued separate guidelines for handling, treatment and disposal of used PPE kits -- face shields, goggles, hazmat suits, plastic coveralls, masks, head covers and shoe covers have to be separated and sent to common facilities for disposal. However, PPE coveralls are made of polypropylene and are not biodegradable. Hence, a team of doctors and postgraduate students from GDCRI, led by their department head Dr Kiran Kumar, proposed the use of polymer-based coveralls.
"We are planning to make a combination of this polymer with other polymers and fillers to reduce cost and improve mechanical properties. Segregating and disposing is a challenge, so our proposal to manufacture biodegradable PPE kits will surely help," Dr Biji said. Dr V Sacchidananda, vice-chancellor, RGUHS, said, "The idea impressed us and we will support the researchers financially to develop more kits. The proposal will then be sent to the Centre." Researchers involved in the project are Dr Kiran Kumar, Dr Biji Brigit, Dr K Rashmi, Dr Priya, Dr Annapoorna and Dr Hariprasad.