Since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the obligatory use of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Due to demand, there is not enough medical-grade protection for people to safeguard themselves. Often, in social media, we see tutorials of DIY face masks out of clothes, bandannas, and even socks. Unfortunately, recent studies have proven the lack of effectiveness of these practices and the risk that they could represent for users.
A new study, published a week ago in the scientific journal Physics of Fluids from AIP Publishing, shows new discoveries on how the materials and construction of a face mask can impact its effectiveness.
“All of the major health agencies have now issued recommendations for the general public to use some sort of face covering, but there are no clear guidelines on the types of material or designs that should be used,” explained Siddhartha Verma, Ph.D., the study’s lead author who also serves as an assistant professor in the department of ocean and mechanical engineering at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.
“While there are a few prior studies on the effectiveness of medical-grade equipment, we don’t have a lot of information about the cloth-based coverings that are most accessible to us at present, given the need to reserve medical-grade supplies for healthcare workers,” Siddhartha emphasized.
The Importance of Adequate Face Mask Usage
Dr. Teresa Amato, director of geriatric emergency medicine at Northwell Health, explained that even as experts battle to understand a pandemic that was virtually unheard of 6 months ago, mask-wearing is a no-brainer in terms of decreasing transmission.
“It’s especially true with the more people you have wearing a mask,” she pointed out. “If you are infected and you wear a mask, you will decrease the likelihood of transmission. You’re wearing it to protect the people around you and you’re also wearing it to protect yourself from getting it.
It’s really important to emphasize that more people wearing masks will decrease transmission overall.”
Additionally, she clarified that even when N-95 face masks are effective, they should be saved for health care professionals, and went on to explain that a bandanna or a DIY facemask are completely ineffective.
“N95 masks need to be fitted, and the wearer needs to be fit-tested to make sure that it’s on there appropriately,” she said. “Otherwise, wearing one is actually not very useful. So we’re not talking about the N95, we’re talking about either surgical masks or cloth masks.”
“I was a bit surprised to see how much leakage could occur through the bandannas and folded handkerchief masks we tested, even through multiple folds of the cotton fabric,” she explained.
Teresa concluded mentioning that a simple cheap surgical facemask is the best option for most citizens that are not involved in the healthcare front–lines.
“In the beginning, we were kind of holding onto those for healthcare workers, but now we have a good supply of them,” she said. “They’re probably the most comfortable to wear. They’re very lightweight and they afford good protection.” She finalized.
What other Covid-19 myths regarding masks have you heard? Share it with us!
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