LOS ANGELES (KABC) – As public health officials continue to reinforce the message that face masks can help stop the spread of coronavirus, many different types of masks have flooded the market.
So which mask is best?
A new Duke University study looked at a variety of masks to see which are most effective at blocking airway points to protect users and the people around them.
Surgical N95. This mask is manufactured to surgical standards to provide a tight seal around the face. However, due to scarcity, most experts urge members of the general public not to acquire these masks so that they can be reserved for health professionals.
Simple three-layer surgical mass. Widely available and found to provide the next highest level of protection.
Cotton. The researchers examined several different types of cotton masks and found that most of them were quite effective, but described the best as a “cotton-polypropylene-cotton mask”;.
Fleece: The study found that this type of face coverage is worse than no mask at all. The researchers found that furry face masks – for example, a neck fur – actually explode breathing points into smaller droplets than by blocking them, releasing a greater number of individual droplets into the air. These smaller droplets are lighter in weight and therefore stay in the air longer. “Given that smaller particles are air longer than large droplets (larger droplets sink faster), using such a mask can be counterproductive,” the researchers wrote.
Bandanas were also considered ineffective, though not as bad as no mask at all.
Knitted: These types of masks were not effective in blocking breathing points.
Dr Anthony Cardillo, a Los Angeles-based specialist who was not involved in the study, tells Eyewitness News his clinic has advised patients to wear simple surgical masks while out in public. If they are not available, cotton masks are a good alternative, he said.
He added that people should avoid masks that have valves in them, even N95 masks, as those openings allow dots to be drawn.
“So we want to advise all people, everyone to wear a simple surgical mask when you are out and about. If you can not get your hands on a … If you have to wear a mask, mask “Three-piece cotton is the third best.”
The full study can be found here.
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