Homemade Mask May Need At Least Two Layers to Fight COVID-19
August 6, 2020
Homemade masks to guard against viruses seems like a crazy idea, data shows masks work incredibly well, and they’re also really cheap. Surgical masks will cost a couple of pennies, and that they can filter 80% of particles right down to 0.007 microns (14 times smaller than the coronavirus).
However, the coronavirus outbreak brought with it a replacement problem: masks are sold out. People have scrambled to form their own masks, but can homemade masks really protect you from the coronavirus?
Scientists from the University of Cambridge asked this exact question within the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. They thought that during a global pandemic scenario, we’d run out of N95 masks. Their predictions have come true during the coronavirus outbreak.
Worldwide shortages of protective equipment for COVID-19 has led the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities to recommend homemade cloth face coverings as an alternative to surgical face masks.
It is said that single layer covering was made from a folded piece of a cotton T-shirt and hair ties, and the double layer covering was made using the sewing method described by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study also suggested that a double layer covering was better than one layer in reducing the droplet spread from coughing and sneezing.
Homemade face masks should be made from multiple layers of cloth to trap the viral droplets from the nose and mouth associated with the spread of Covid-19. Face masks are thought to guard healthy people against inhaling infectious droplets also as reducing the spread from those that are already infected.
According to the researchers, the effectiveness of fabric face masks depends on the number of layers of the covering, the sort of fabric used, design, fit also because of the frequency of washing.
Their analysis showed that the surgical mask was the most effective at reducing airborne droplet dispersal, although even one layer cloth face-covering reduced the droplet spread from speaking.
The researchers in a trial used a tailored LED lighting system and a high-speed camera to film the dispersal of airborne droplets produced by a healthy person with no respiratory tract infection, during speaking, sneezing, and coughing while wearing each sort of mask.
The video results showed that the 3-ply surgical mask was most effective at reducing airborne droplet dispersal, although even one layer cloth face-covering reduced the droplet spread from speaking and coughing.
This is just one case, added to which several other factors contribute to the effectiveness of fabric face masks. These include the type of material used, design, and fit, as well as the frequency of washing.
With this preliminary researches, there may be a need for more evidence to tell safer cloth mask design, and countries should ensure adequate manufacturing or procurement of surgical masks.