Coronavirus: What is the Most Effective DIY Face Mask?

Date: 2020-05-01 09:05:55

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As more countries see shortages in face masks, many are turning to DIY masks, from sewing cloth ones to using bandanas.

Beijing-based Smart Air has been studying the efficacy of different types of masks for many years. They’ve tested around 30 different DIY mask materials, including bra cups, coffee filters and scarves, CEO Paddy Robertson tells Bloomberg’s Selina Wang.

“We found the best material for filtering out things like Covid-19 virus-sized particles were actually things like coffee filters, then some thick canvas,” says Robertson.

So what percent of particulates were they actually filtering out?

It’s still nowhere near what a surgical mask or N95 mask is able to capture, which capture 95% and 70% of particles respectively, says Robertson. “Most of the materials we recommend were only capturing about 30 percent.”

Robertson also says leaving your mask for 48 hours or more is the most reliable way to disinfect it as that’s the generally how long the coronavirus will survive on surfaces.

The big debate over whether face masks can help contain the spread of Covid-19 is shifting quickly, with more countries requiring citizens to cover their faces in public.

The newfound embrace of the face mask comes after the World Health Organization moderated its stance, saying home-made masks may make it less likely that an asymptomatic carrier spreads the virus even though they wouldn’t prevent individual infections. In its new guidance, it also emphasized potential risks such as using contaminated masks and less adherence to other preventative measures like hand washing and social distancing, while also saying there was little proof widespread mask wearing in the population helped.

Since Covid-19 spreads via respiratory droplets when a sick person coughs, sneezes or speaks, a face cover can help in both catching the droplets and preventing healthy people from touching their faces.

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