(Futurity) — If the fit is right, face masks made of a combination of high thread-count cotton and natural silk fabric or a chiffon weave can effectively filter out aerosol particles, researchers report.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public. Because N95 and surgical masks are scarce and should go to health care workers, many people are making their own coverings out of fabric.
“There is a huge interest and need for homemade cloth masks, but we found little data on how good various fabrics are as filters for masks,” says senior author Supratik Guha, professor with the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and a scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory.
“According to these results, it’s possible to get very good filtering with commonly available fabrics, but the wearer only gets maximum protection if the fit is very close to your face.”
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, or breathes. Guha and his colleagues wanted to study the ability of common fabrics, alone or in combination, to filter out aerosols similar in size to respiratory droplets. So Guha—in regular times, a leading scientist in microelectronics and materials for quantum information—quickly rigged up an experimental setup with his colleagues to test combinations of fabrics that can be bought at fabric and retail stores. (…)
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