Most Effective Face Masks - Henry J. Austin Health Center

Most Effective Face Masks

Duke University recently published a study that compared the different types of face masks and coverings. Surprisingly, there are some masks that are actually not as effective and possibly one type of mask in particular that can spread the virus more than wearing nothing at all. Can you guess which one that is?

Researchers with Duke’s physics department tested the effectiveness of masks by using laser beam and cell phone to see the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular conversation. Watch their video about the study.

14 of the most commonly available masks including a professionally fitted N95 mask. First the test was performed with a speaker talking without wearing a mask. Then, they did it while a speaker was wearing a mask. The most effective mask was the fitted N95 (14 in photo). Three-layer surgical masks (2) and cotton masks (7-9, 10, 13), which many people have been making at home, also performed well.

Neck fleeces (11), were the least effective. In fact, wearing a fleece mask resulted in a higher number of respiratory droplets, compared to wearing no mask, because the material seemed to break down larger droplets into smaller particles that are more easily carried away with the air. Folded bandanas (12) and knitted masks (3) also performed poorly and did not offer much protection.

List of mask effectiveness, from most effective to least effective:

  1. Fitted N95, no valve (#14 in photo)
  2. 3-layer surgical mask (#1 in photo)
  3. Cotton-polypropylene-cotton mask (#5 in photo)
  4. 2-layer polypropylene apron mask (#4 in photo)
  5. 2-layer cotton, pleated style mask (#13 in photo)
  6. 2-layer cotton, pleated style mask (#7 in photo)
  7. Valved N95 mask (#2 in photo)
  8. 2-layer cotton, Olson style mask (#8 in photo)
  9. 1-layer Maxima AT mask (#6 in photo)
  10. 1-layer cotton, pleated style mask (#10 in photo)
  11. 2-layer cotton, pleated style mask (#9 in photo)
  12. Knitted mask (#3 in photo)
  13. Double-layer bandana (#12 in photo)
  14. Gaiter-style neck fleece (#11 in photo)

Remember, when leaving your house to wear an (effective) face mask or covering, wash your hands and stay six feet away from others. If you are not feeling well, stay home! And, if you think you may have been exposed or have symptoms please call us and we can set up a COVID-19 test for you. We can get through this together! Call us at 609-278-5900.

This story was originally posted on CNN.com.