Study: Face Coverings Reduce Risk Of Infection

Study: Face Coverings Reduce Risk Of Infection

Going out in public without a mask is becoming a rarity. In the face of the current pandemic, citizens are getting used to wearing masks at the grocery store, or at the gym. A lot of people believe the masks are not effective, while others think they make a huge difference. Researchers at the University of Arizona recently conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of face coverings.

The scientists used several different masks including medical grade, homemade masks made of various materials, and no mask at all. They used 3 different concentrations of droplets (.01%, 1%, and 10%) and measured two different exposure periods (30 seconds and 20 minutes). The results show that any mask is better than no mask, but as concentrations and exposure times increase, the effectiveness of the mask decreases. Across the spectrum, the 3 most effective are the medical grade N99, N95, and surgical masks in that order. After those 3 comes the homemade masks. Materials from most effective to least are: vacuum cleaner bag, tea towel, cotton mix, antimicrobial pillowcase, linen, standard pillowcase, silk, and cotton t-shirt. At the bottom of the list are conventional scarves and finally… no mask.

Without going into all the individual details, the study found wearing a face covering reduces your risk 44-99% for a 30 second exposure and 24-95% for a 20 minute exposure. So, even using a scarf is significantly better than wearing no mask at all. However, the researchers admit this study is specifically looking at the risk reduction of the wearer, and assumes the wearer is not currently infected. In reality, a mask also prevents an infected person from spreading an illness, so this benefit would not be reflected in this study. In short, face coverings are effective so make sure you wear one.

About the Author

avatar KALE: A geek who works in the IT field and lives in Dallas, TX. He is also a music geek who has played in several local bands. Previous to his IT career, Kale worked as a photojournalist. He brings technical advice and artistic counterpoint to the podcast.