New Tests Provide Visual Proof that Face Masks Block Droplets

A study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center has demonstrated the efficacy and effectiveness of facial masks. It was a proof-of-concept study where the team of researchers reported that a simple, cheap technique delivers a visual proof of effectiveness of face masks in reducing droplet emissions during normal wear.

The study has found that the most effective facial mask is N95 without valves. N95 masks are “hospital-grade coverings that are used by front-line health care workers”. The study also shows that surgical and/or polypropylene masks also perform well. However, the hand-made cotton face coverings are reported to give good coverage and eliminate a considerable amount of the spray from normal speech. Yet, the bandanas and neck fleeces such as balaclavas didn’t block the droplets significantly. The study has been published in Science Advances. 

Source: CDC

The Duke physician Eric Westman was one of the first working with a local non-profit to provide free masks to at-risk to reduce the spread of the virus in the Durham community. To make his efforts more productive, he reassured the claims of the virus-blocking claims mask suppliers.  Martin Fischer, Ph.D., a chemist, and physicist, also joined the team. He as director of the Advanced Light Imaging and Spectroscopy facility. Normally, he works on exploring new optical contrast mechanisms for molecular imaging, but for this project, he worked on MacGyvered a relatively inexpensive apparatus from common lab materials that can easily be purchased online. The setup consisted of a box, a laser, a lens, and a cell phone camera.

In this study, Fischer, Westman and colleagues reported that the easy and simple, low-cost technique gave the visual proof that the face masks are effective in reducing droplet emissions during normal wear.

“We confirmed that when people speak, small droplets get expelled, so disease can be spread by talking, without coughing or sneezing. We could also see that some face coverings performed much better than others in blocking expelled particles,” Fischer said.

Particularly, according to the research proof and evidence, the scientists reported that the best fascial covering were N95 masks without valves. Furthur, the hand-made cotton face coverings provided good coverage, eliminating a substantial amount of the spray from normal speech. Contrary, bandanas and neck fleeces such as balaclavas didn’t block the droplets much at all.

“This was just a demonstration, more work is required to investigate variations in masks, speakers, and how people wear them, but it demonstrates that this sort of test could easily be conducted by businesses and others that are providing masks to their employees or patrons,” Fischer said.

As per the Westman and Fischer, they believe that it is integral, that businesses manufacturing and supplying masks to the public and employees must have good information about the products they are providing to assure the best protection possible.

Source: CDC

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