In  the last few months, a number of regions in Indonesia, particularly in Sumatra, and Kalimantan  have  been stricken by haze, caused by forest and land  fires. Various attempts have been  made to overcome it. In addition, the use of masks as a safety device becomes a necessity  so that people could avoid the risk of various diseases due to smog, including acute respiratory infections (ARI).

This situation encouraged some  nanotechnology researchers  from the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta, to develop an  antipollution smoke mask. Unlike masks in general, this mask contains sheets of nano-sized particles that prevent smoke particles from  entering  lungs. Nanotechnology is the science and engineering in the creation of material, functional structures, as well as devices in the nanometer scale. One nanometer is one quadrillionth of a micrometer, or trillionth of a millionth of a millimeter, or trillionth of a billionth of a meter.

One of the researchers and participant of the International Conference on Science and Technology (iCST) Dr. Kuwat Triyana, recently said that his research group had  made nano filter membrane to filter out smoke pollution. The  mask contains nano-sized filter made of polyvinyl alcohol and chitosan. This mask has been  intentionally designed to reduce the impact of forest and land fire smoke pollution to health. The research is still in the laboratory scale and is almost completed. It was planned that  this month 10 masks products are ready to be tested in the field.

 Dr. Kuwat said, his research group plans to test this mask in Palangkaraya, but smoke there now has begun to diminish. As a result it is diverted to test how far the smoke particles escape. According Dr. Kuwat masks commonly used by people in the region affected by haze, allow 70 percent of the particles passes and are breathed into the lungs. While the masks made of nano membranes can prevent smoke particles from  entering the lung  except for  the air or oxygen molecules.

He said that, if this research is successful, antipollution mask for the smoke will soon be launched and mass produced at a relatively cheap price. This was done in order to reduce the impact of forest fire smoke pollution that occurred almost every year. To carry out mass production of anti-smoke mask is necessary to have   tissue membrane nano-sized particles maker or machine. Therefore he said it requires support from the government or universities to assist this process. UGM  Rector Prof. Ir Dwikorita Karnawati said nano technology research at UGM has been growing rapidly. In fact, some researchers  have been collaborating with researchers from abroad. She said the use of nanotechnology in the field of biomedics among others is  for Gama-CHA products for bone replacement material.

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