I wrote many times before on this column mask musts to follow to use them to their full potential. So, today, I am going to present you with another one. Currently, in the absence of medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE), many have switched to homemade cloth masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, as you probably know, not all masks are made the same, making some completely ineffective. According to a video case study made by Australian researchers shows that for a homemade cloth mask to stop viral transmission, it needs to have at least two layers of fabric. Meaning, if your mask has only one layer of fabric, you can bet it doesn’t work.
Using an LED lighting system and a high-speed camera, the research team filmed the dispersal of aerosols produced by a subject while speaking, coughing, and sneezing. After seeing the footage, the team ranked the efficacy of the three cloth masks (as well as a three-ply surgical face mask, which was determined to be the most effective option). As you can imagine, the team found a perfect connection between the number of fabric layers and efficacy: the more layers a cloth mask had, the more effective it was in protecting against the spread of droplets.
The single-layer masks barely impeded the spread of droplets at all. The team also noted that the style of sewing also affected the outcome. Masks that were sewn according to standards provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were far more effective than single-ply masks made with cotton t-shirts and hair ties. So, next time you go out in public, make sure that your DIY mask is suitable. Make sure that it has at least two layers (ideally three) that’s been sewn based on the CDC’s standards (you can find them in the link above). Keep safe!