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Personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical to protect healthcare workers (HCWs) from highly infectious diseases such as COVID-19. However, hospitals have been at risk of running out of the safe and effective PPE including personal protective clothing needed to treat patients with COVID-19, due to unprecedented global demand. In addition, there are only limited manufacturing facilities of such clothing available worldwide, due to a lack of available knowledge about relevant technologies, ineffective supply chains, and stringent regulatory requirements. Therefore, there remains a clear unmet need for coordinating the actions and efforts from scientists, engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, and regulatory bodies to develop and produce safe and effective protective clothing using the technologies that are locally available around the world. In this review, we discuss currently used PPE, their quality, and the associated regulatory standards. We survey the current state-of-the-art antimicrobial functional finishes on fabrics to protect the wearer against viruses and bacteria and provide an overview of protective medical fabric manufacturing techniques, their supply chains, and the environmental impacts of current single-use synthetic fiber-based protective clothing. Finally, we discuss future research directions, which include increasing efficiency, safety, and availability of personal protective clothing worldwide without conferring environmental problems.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS nano

Publication Date





12313 - 12340


Disease Transmission, Infectious, Personal Protective Equipment, Humans, Practice Guidelines as Topic, Health Personnel, Textiles