Experts from three countries evaluate the effectiveness of personal protective equipment against coronavirus
A joint research project of Lithuania, the UK and Ukraine has been official launched. During the project an international team of scientists, led by dr. Steigvilė Byčenkienė from the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC), will conduct in-depth studies of nanoparticles from a coronavirus safety perspective. The official title of the project is the "Joint United Kingdom, Lithuania and Ukraine project – evaluation of nanoparticles from coronavirus safety perspective".
During the project, teams of scientific experts from the three countries will carry out in-depth studies of various cloth combinations used to protect against infectious diseases, including the spread of COVID-19, which caused the pandemic.
"The effectiveness of certified medical masks and respirators mostly depends on wearing them correctly, while the effectiveness of fabric masks in protecting against viruses is largely determined by the characteristics of the material. The World Health Organization (WHO), in response to numerous on-line instructions on cloth masks production and the lack of public awareness of the influencing factors of the effectiveness of cloth masks, issued interim guidance, calling for more scientific research. Joining forces with our colleagues from the UK and Ukraine, we have decided to carry out in-depth research into different textile layers and combinations, by the end of project we will provide the findings and recommendations to the WHO." - says dr. S. Byčenkienė, Head of Environmental Research Department at the FTMC.
According to the scientist, findings and recommendations based on in-depth research will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Eastern Partnership countries (e.g. Ukraine), provide a better understanding of the routes of COVID-19 transmission worldwide and other important determinants of human health. The research will also have an important impact on reducing the spread of both current and future burden of communicable diseases.
The British Embassy and British Ambassador to Lithuania, Brian Olley, provided significant support to the international collaborative project. Thanks to the support and consideration of the Ambassador, the Center for Physical Sciencies and Technology was able to purchase the equipment needed for the laboratory research stage of the project – an aerodynamic aerosol particle sizer spectrometer. This innovative equipment will help researchers to investigate in detail the filtration efficiency of protective masks and the reliability of cloth combinations in the most penetrating (~ 0.3 μm) aerosol particle size range.
Aerodynamic aerosol particle sizer spectrometers
The British Ambassador to Lithuania Brian Olley says: "I'm very happy that the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office International Programme COVID-19 Enabling Fund, which is one of the elements of the UK's global response to finding solutions to crisis, is contributing to the project in this highly topical area of Covid19 research. Our partnership with FTMC and the engagement of acclaimed experts from the UK and Ukraine will result in excellent research and closer international cooperation, and will contribute to delivery of real benefits to building resilience in vulnerable countries".
"On behalf of the FTMC, we sincerely thank the British Ambassador, Mr. Brian Olley for this goodwill initiative. This equipment at our Centre will make a significant contribution to solving the problems of pandemic management and open new opportunities for cooperation between scientific institutions of both countries. This is a beautiful and valuable example of how, by concentrating our efforts, complementing our competencies, as well as our scientific and technological resources, we can successfully move towards qualitatively new forms of international cooperation." - FTMC director prof. Gintaras Valušis comments.
Mr. Brian Olley, the British Ambassador to Lithuania
The project was initiated by the researchers of FTMC, which is considered the strongest scientific research institution in the BalticStates, carrying out unique fundamental research and technological development. The project is led by dr. Steigvilė Byčenkienė, Head of Environmental Research Department at the FTMC. Dr. S. Byčenkienė is an expert in environmental science and climate change, whose research activities are highly valued by the international scientific community. Dr. S. Byčenkienė is also a member of the European Commission (EC) Sustainable Finance Platform and a Board member of the EC Council Mission for Adaptation to Climate Change, including social transformation. Research in environmental science, climate change mitigation and adaptation is a priority area of the FTMC, where the research projects earn the highest international evaluations and help the Government of the Republic of Lithuania to implement climate change and air quality policies, such as the commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.
The UK representative, Dr. Francis Pope, a professor at the University of Birmingham, is a world-renowned expert in the field of Atmospheric Sciences. Prof. Pope conducts research on the causes and effects of air quality, climate change and resilient cities, drawing together insight from the fields of chemistry, biology, physics and social science to understand how climate change and air pollution (e.g. bioaerosol particles) affects human health, and how it relates to urban sustainable development. He has been published widely (in over 70 peer reviewed papers, four book chapters and many government reports). Prof. Pope has led several multi-institute and international projects to completion, and currently has ongoing projects in the UK, Africa and India. The University of Birmingham is part of the UK COP26 universities network, which brings together more than 45 UK-based universities to help achieve ambitious results at the next UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK (COP 26).
Dr. Francis Pope, a professor at the University of Birmingham
The Ukrainian representative, prof. Peter Strizak from the L.V. Pisarzhevskii Institute of physical chemistry of NAS of Ukraine is one of the most well-known scientific centers in Ukraine, which carries out fundamental and applied studies in different fields of modern physical chemistry. Prof. Strizak research area is heterogeneous catalysis, nanoparticles and nanostructures. He is the author of more than 300 scientific articles, 100 conference papers, co-author of 40 patents, and a member of many Ukrainian scientific organizations.
"The support of the British Embassy and active engagement of the scientific community has opened new opportunities. We are very happy to work with prof. F. Pope, a recognised expert in atmospheric and climate change research in the international scientific community. Prof. Pope's research areas correspond to the focus of our department. Moreover, the British Embassy funded equipment will allow research in air pollution and climate change, developing methods and technologies for creating safer and healthy environment for a sustainable future. I sincerely believe that the UK's support and theses new opportunities will encourage long-term bilateral and international cooperation", says FTMC dr. S. Byčenkienė.
The Lithuanian, UK and Ukrainian project is due to be implemented by March 2021.