Can your fancy mask protect you against Covid? Layering, fitting and material matters

If there is something that has become of a statement during the pandemic – it is face masks. While the fear lingers in the mind of many people amid the surge in coronavirus cases, people are constantly investing in fancy masks to protect themselves against Covid-19. But are these fancy masks effective? A new study has found that the type of material, fitting and number of fabric layers also determine the increase or decrease in your risk of contracting the infection. Also Read – Covid vaccine in the third trimester may trigger a strong immune response in newborn babies

Layering, Fitting And Material Of Face Masks Matter

The masks became prominent almost immediately after the infection was identified and the pandemic was declared. These days, they are everywhere and become a fashion statement as well. Face masks along with hand sanitisers are believed to be your first defence against the coronavirus. But according to the study published in the journal Aerosol Science and Technology, materials, which combine fabric fibre density can reject submicron particles, which can stay in the air for hours and days and increase the risk of exposure. However, there can be a lot of variability in infiltration performance. Also Read – “4th Wave In Delhi” warns Arvind Kejriwal: Asks for Mass Immunization in the State

As per the study, blackout drapery and sterilization wrap widely used for packing surgical instruments and commercially available are the best-performing materials for homemade masks. Also Read – Covid-19 Alert: These states/UTs categorised as “states of grave concern,” asked to take strict action

Masks That Don’t Protect You From Covid-19!

According to the study, masks with filters such as HEPA/MERV or vacuum bags should be avoided unless they are certified to be fibreglass-free, which can be inhaled. Avoid face masks made of loose-knitted material, batting fabric, felt, fleece, or shiny, reusable shopping bags. Assistant Professor, Ryan Lively said, “We found commercially available materials that provide acceptable levels of submicron particle rejection while still maintaining airflow resistance similar to a surgical mask.”

What You Should Look Out For?

After testing 33 different commercially accessible material, researchers have found what makes face masks work. The study included cloth fabrics, single-layered woven fabrics such as cotton and woven polyester. Also, blended fabric, nonwoven materials, cellulose-based materials, cellulose-based materials, materials commonly found and used in hospitals and various filter materials. They measured the filtration efficiency of submicron particles passing through a variety of different materials.

According to researchers, multi-layered masks are better than single-layered masks, but one should look out for breathability. It was found that two-layered and three-layered masks provided better protection due to higher overall filtration efficiency of about 50 per cent for submicron particles.

Another important thing to keep in mind while buying a face mask is fitting. It should fit you in a way that particles don’t escape through gaps at the nose or through the sides of the mask. As per the study results, properly fitted and multilayer masks can reject 84 per cent of particles. If two people were wearing these types of masks, then the particle transmission can decrease by 96 per cent.

(with inputs from IANS) 

Published : April 3, 2021 1:44 pm | Updated:April 3, 2021 1:45 pm

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