With more states moving to reopen once more after the state-imposed coronavirus pandemic lockdown, researchers from Texas A&M University have moved on to study which material would work best for facial masks that people can use for protection. The move also comes as the nation has had great struggle in making sure healthcare workers, frontliners and everyday folk have personal protective equipment (PPE) that they can use to keep themselves safe.
“We are conducting a study evaluating a wide range of household materials as resources for constructing DIY face masks,” Prof. Sarah Brooks, director of the school’s Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment (CACE), said.
Per Brooks, the University is reportedly using sizing equipment and aerosol counting in order to manufacture airborne samples of non-biological particles in order to test just how well the face masks can filter them out.
Additionally, the study also analyzed the effectiveness of the N95 mask since they are found to be completely effective in stopping such particles (especially non-biological surrogate ones) compared to masks that were made from household items.
As such, N95 masks are seen as the best option, while the least effective ones are homemade masks such as bandanas and coffee filters.
“Effective face protection must fit snugly around the mouth and nose, and must be made of appropriate materials. Our results show that while a standard bandana provides some protection, certain household materials, including room air filters and vacuum bags, are more effective at blocking the virus’s passage through a mask,” Brooks said.
“However, many other household materials do not provide additional filtering capability. In summary, make your cloth masks, but stitch a layer of either of these into its lining, and you may have a mask with much better filtering capability and better protection against transmission of the virus,” she added, explaining how homemade masks can be made more effective in protecting against the virus.
As more states are moving to reopen, some experts are voicing out their concerns, saying that it’s not time yet, although states like Texas will still push through.