Face Masks have become an indispensable commodity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. With the worldwide shortage of surgical and N95 masks, people shifted to, made, or bought cloth face masks made of everyday common fabrics such as cotton, satin, silk, etc. Ever since the effectiveness of fabric masks faces constant scrutiny from the people. As many have simply regarded it as a fashion statement, not particularly effective against anything.
As per a report by the ANI, Researchers, Shovon Bhattacharjee, Raina MacIntyre and their colleagues from the University of New South Wales sought to test how mask fabrics and layers worked. The aim is to understand how effective fabrics and mask layers can be at stopping respiratory droplets while sneezing and coughing.
The research used 17 commonly available fabric materials to create simple face masks. Testing One, two, and even three layers of the same or different fabric. Using cotton swabs, healthy adults were tickled on the inside of their noses and made to sneeze. By monitoring sneezes of healthy adults through a high-speed camera, the researchers have identified the best cloth mask design.
The Optimum Design
A hydrophilic inner layer of cotton or linen, an absorbent middle layer of a cotton/polyester blend, and a hydrophobic outer layer of polyester or nylon were shown to be the most effective at blocking droplets and yielded the best results overall, according to the study.
As per the study, the three-layer fabric combination cloth mask is more effective than a three-layer surgical mask. The ability of the fabric masks to prevent droplets increased 20 times with each layer of added cloth. Contrary to popular belief, machine washing does not affect the performance of cloth masks; in fact, masks made of cotton or polyester performed slightly better after washing due to pore shrinkage.
Here to stay
Lockdown and quarantine-related restrictions are diminishing due to the availability of vaccines. Yet Face masks will almost certainly be a necessity in everyday life for the foreseeable future, especially as vaccine-resistant strains emerge. They, therefore, remain a crucial defense in our struggles against the virus.