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Using a fashionable cloth mask, a package of 50 surgical masks that you purchased at the supermarket or went for the massive N95? A new Canadian study examined the effectiveness of popular masks over medical masks and found dramatic data that could help all of us curb the epidemic. “There is a very serious difference in the effectiveness of different masks”







Beauty is not protective enough | Photo: Krakenimages.com, shutterstock

Masks have become an integral part of our lives over the past year and a half as a key factor in dealing with the corona plague, alongside restrictions and vaccines of course. The obligation to wear masks has led to a boom in the sale of masks of various types that have hit the market, not all of which have been tested and proven to be protective against infection. Most of us use simple surgical masks or fashionable cloth masks, now a new study published in the journal Physics of Fluids, which compared the effectiveness of different types of masks raises the question of whether and to what extent they do keep us from sticking.

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada performed an experiment using resuscitation dolls that can fully simulate the action of breathing. The researchers caused the dolls to blow out aerosol drops (polluting particles) using olive oil in a large, unventilated room, wearing various masks including three.layer fabric masks, surgical masks and N95 masks.

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The researchers examined the amount of aerosols that accumulated in the space at a distance of 2 meters from the dolls and were not blocked by the mask and compared the effectiveness of the various masks. According to the results, fabric masks and basic surgical masks are able to filter particles from the air at a very low efficiency of 12.4% and 9.8% respectively compared to efficiencies at 60% (for N95 masks) and 46% (for KN95 masks).

According to the researchers, photographs from the study show gaps in the top of the basic mask in the area where it meets the nose that allow the particles to escape into the air, leading the researchers to conclude that the two premium masks “are still the recommended choice for transmitting airborne diseases.“


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Reusable masks (Photo: Phuttharak, Shutterstock)
More massive protection is required | Photo: Phuttharak, Shutterstock


What are aerosols and how are they related to corona?

The drops that form when we talk or cough contain water, saline salts and viruses. As the water evaporates, the droplets become vibrating particles called aerosols, which are 0.005 millimeters in size. These particles are easily carried in the air for a distance of a few meters and can also hover in the air for hours.

At the beginning of the epidemic most experts believed that the virus was transmitted mainly by droplet infection through close contact, but over time researchers have also raised the possibility that it may be transmitted through the air as a result of aerosols, an option that is now strengthened with the development of various variants.

You will learn from the doctors

“It’s definitely helpful to wear any face cover, both for close and long range defense.” Said Sergi Jarosevich, professor of mechanical and electronics engineering and research leader. “However, there is a very serious difference in the effectiveness of different masks when it comes to controlling aerosols. There is a reason for example that many doctors wear N95 masks, the novelty here is that we have provided solid numbers and rigorous surgery to support this assumption.“

The study comes after many experts talked about the need to upgrade the masks with the rise of the Delta version. For example, Michael Australol, an epidemiologist and director of the University of Minnesota Infectious Diseases Center, said in an interview with CNN that it was time for people to upgrade the cloth masks that do very little to protect against virus transmission. “We need to talk about N95 respirators that will do a lot for both people who have not yet been vaccinated and others who may become infected again even after they have been vaccinated.“

By Editor

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