Utilization of surgical masks in road construction
Buzudde, Theresa Louise
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In 2020, the consumption of surgical masks increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because many governments passed laws that made wearing a facemask compulsory in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease. Africa by May 2020 was estimated to consume about 7 million masks per day , a number that has only continued to grow to date. Used facemasks are however being disposed of at the discretion of the user leaving the masks littered on walkways reducing the aesthetic value of the surroundings, which is detrimental for a country like Uganda that heavily relies on tourism . An efficient but inexpensive method to reuse these masks is thus necessary to carb the negative effects that are accompanied by improper disposal. Plastic waste has been used in road construction since 2006 and various roads around the world have been using plastic modified bituminous mixes. Surgical masks, being made out of PP could also be used in the same way. The main objective of this study is therefore to analyze road construction aggregates modified using surgical masks. Aggregates were characterized and coated with shredded surgical masks at 1400 C. The coated aggregates were allowed to cool and the following tests were carried out on them: AIV, Los Angeles Abrasion and specific gravity. Each of these properties was shown to improve with an increased percentage of shredded masks added. Surgical masks were found to improve aggregate properties. This is therefore an appropriate way to dispose of the masks. However, further studies are recommended to investigate the effect of mask addition on bitumen properties and the resulting bituminous mix.