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effectiveness with medical masks

    • 12 posts
    April 26, 2020 9:41 PM EDT

    "Homemade anti-virus masks sound like a crazy idea. The data shows that the mask works very well and is very cheap. A surgical mask only needs a few cents, it can filter out 80% of the particles, the smallest particle is only 0.007 microns 14 times smaller than coronavirus).
    However, the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a new problem: the masks are sold out.
    People scramble to make their own masks, but can homemade masks really protect you from coronaviruses? Smart Air analyzed the data and gave you the answer.
    Homemade homemade mask test
    After the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, scientists at Cambridge University raised this exact question. They believe that in the case of a global pandemic, we may run out of N95 masks. During the coronavirus outbreak, their prediction became a reality.
    The researchers asked volunteers to make their masks using cotton t-shirts and sewing machines, using a simple program they designed. They then compared their effectiveness with medical masks in filtering particles as small as 0.65 microns.
    Homemade cotton masks captured 71% of 0.65-1.1 micron particles, compared with 86% of surgical masks. Although medical masks capture 15% more particles, cotton masks are surprisingly good. The researchers concluded that homemade masks are better than doing nothing.
    What about smaller particles?
    Cambridge University data shows that homemade masks can filter out particles with a size of 0.65-1.1 microns. This is good, however, most viruses are smaller than this, while coronavirus is 0.1 microns. A group of researchers in the Netherlands tested a mask made with tea cloth to test smaller particles, which are more similar in size to viruses.
    They tested the percentage of masks that could capture smaller particles than Cambridge researchers: from 0.02 to 1 micron. When people wear masks, they use a suitable machine to test the mask.
    The tea cloth mask captured 60% of the smaller 0.02-1 micron particles. Not surprisingly, medical masks and N95 masks can capture more particles, but the data shows that homemade masks are not useless in capturing virus-sized particles.
    How long can you wear a DIY mask?
    Then, they tested the effectiveness of people wearing masks for three hours. The results show that moisture and time have little effect on the effectiveness of any mask.
    In fact, the efficiency of homemade masks in filtering virus-sized particles increased by 5.8% after three hours. From this, we can conclude that wearing homemade masks for several hours will not reduce their effectiveness.
    How effective are homemade masks on children?
    Next, they tested homemade masks with 11 children aged 5 to 11. When the children put on their homemade masks, they only removed 52% of the 0.02-1 micron particles. The effect on children is almost 15% lower than that of adults.
    Interestingly, surgical masks and FFP2 (N92) masks are also less effective for children. This coincides with a smart air test for a child mask in India, which found that children's masks are less effective than adults. The data shows that it is more difficult to put masks on children.
    Bottom line
    The data shows that a mask made with a cotton coat or a tea towel can remove about 50% to 60% of the virus-sized particles. This means that their performance is inferior to surgical masks and FFP2 (N95) masks. Wearing a self-made mask for 3 hours had no significant effect on the filtration efficiency. "