New study compares different types of masks

DURHAM, N.C. – More people are wearing face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Now, another study is taking a look at which ones are most effective at blocking respiratory droplets.

Researchers from Duke University studied the spread of respiratory droplets using a box, a laser beam, a lens and a cell phone camera.

A person spoke into the box, saying, “Stay healthy, people.” First, without a mask and then again with 14 different masks. Each mask was tested 10 times and a computer algorithm was used to count the number of particles.

The scientists found the most effective mask was the fitted N-95 mask without valves followed by surgical masks and cotton masks, including homemade ones. The least effective were neck fleeces—or gaiter masks—and folded bandanas.

The experts say that since this was a demonstration, more research is needed.

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