Scientists Compare, Contrast Different Masks’ Protective Abilities

December 16, 2020 14:05:01

Research has shown the transmission risk of the coronavirus is significantly reduced when individuals wear masks. This explains why public health officials around the world are advocating for all individuals to wear masks, especially when in public. Masks not only protect the wearer from breathing in particles that may contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus but also block the wearer from discharging particles that may carry the virus.

Despite this backing from science, some individuals are still refraining from putting masks on. So in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine investigated the protectiveness of different kinds of modified and consumer-grade masks. They based their research on the assumption that the individual wearing the mask was exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The research, which was published in the “JAMA Internal Medicine” journal, demonstrates that some masks, worn snug fit by the wearer and made of at least two layers of woven nylon, were 79% effectual in obstructing particles that may contain the virus. Surgical masks, which are the masks with ear loops that are used in medical procedures, were 38.5% effective at filtration. The researchers observed that when the masks’ ear loops were tied in a particular way to tighten its fit across the wearer’s face, the efficacy increased to 60.3%. The researchers noted that when the wearer added a layer of nylon, the masks efficacy grew to 80%.

One of the study’s authors, UNC School of Medicine assistant professor of pediatrics and inhalation toxicologist Philip Clapp, explained that improving the mask’s fit and modifying the surgical masks not only decreased the chances of inhaling airborne particles but also improved the mask’s filtering abilities. He stated that the research showed that many consumer-grade masks’ filtration capabilities were better than or equal to that of surgical masks.

The infection prevention director at the UNC Medical Center, Emily Sickbert-Bennett, who is an author on the study, stated that it was important to limit the amount of virus individuals came into contact with as the probability of an individual getting sick and becoming severely ill was increased as one was exposed to more viral particles.

Wearing face masks was adopted at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a measure in virus containment. This led to a rather rapid expansion in the use of improvised, commercial and homemade masks, which vary in construction as well as material and design. While there have been various mask enhancements, hacks and devices introduced that claim to better the performance of conventional masks, few assessments of the filtration efficiency of these enhancements and face coverings have been conducted.

Researchers and biomed firms are constantly looking for better ways to provide healthcare. For example, Brain Scientific Inc. (OTCQB: BRSF) has set its sights on taking the field of neurology to the next level by coming up with better diagnostic tools for this branch of medicine.

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