Over the past few months, face masks have become part of a community effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Despite the fact that masks are now required in many public spaces, there isn’t a hard rule on which masks people should choose.
Most businesses require at least a cloth face covering, but there is some debate as to how effective these can be compared to other masks. Tap or click here to see which mask is right for your needs.
If you’re wondering which mask to choose, wonder no longer because researchers from Duke University recently tested 14 different types to see which ones came out on top – and those results may surprise you. Here is the definitive ranking on which masks are best for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers discover which masks are worthy of your face
A new article published by researchers from Duke University is comparing 14 different kinds of face masks and coverings commonly worn by members of the general public. This research compared how effective each mask was at preventing transmission of aerosol droplets, which are known to contain viral particles like the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
To test each mask, the scientists behind the study used a black box along with a laser and cellphone camera. While wearing each mask, testers would speak in the direction of the laser beam within the box while saying pre-written phrase.
The cellphone camera would then record droplets coming out from the mask while computer algorithm would calculate an approximation of the exact amount. This would determine how effective each mask was at blocking particles exhaled by the wearer.
And the results, the scientists found, were nothing short of extraordinary. At the top of the list was the winner everyone expected (the N95 mask), but some masks performed far better than the researchers initially thought they would.
The scientists hope that this research will inform citizens about the importance of masks, as well as which types of face coverings would be best for them to purchase and wear. In addition, this guidance could help government agencies make informed decisions on which masks are best to provide to employees, healthcare workers and residents.
The best face masks ranked
Below is the complete list of face masks from Duke University’s research. The following items are ranked from most effective to least, and at the very least, you may want to consider picking up a few of the items at the top (if they’re available) for your own use when you go out in public.
1. N95 Respirators
2. Multi-layered surgical mask
3. Triple-layer polypropylene and cotton mask
4. Dual-layer polypropylene mask
5. Dual-layer cotton mask with ties
6. Single-layer cotton mask with ties
7. N95 respirator with valve
8. Hand-sewn cotton mask
9. Pleated cotton ‘MAXIMA AT’ mask
10. Single-layer pleated cotton mask
11. Dual-layer pleated cotton mask
12. Knitted T-Shirt mask
14. Neck gaiter
Wondering why the results ended up the way they did? It all has to do with the right combination of layers and fit.
Typically, the more interwoven layers a mask has, the more effective it will be at blocking particles. This is the reason why the multi-layered cotton, surgical and N95 masks performed so well. All fabric and textiles have gaps between their fibers, so layering them makes it more difficult for particles to pass through.
At the same time, fit also plays an important role. If a mask fits tightly, the only way particles can escape is through the mask itself. But if a mask fits loosely, particles can escape out the sides, top and bottom. This is the main reason why the neck-worn gaiter mask scored so poorly on the test.
Do you have any of these masks at home? At the very least, you have a better idea of which masks will work best for your public outings. And if you’re still on the hunt for masks this handy website will tell you which ones are in stock for you to buy.
And if masks aren’t your style, wait until you see what face shields can do for you. Tap or click here to see why face shields are the next big thing in pandemic protection.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.