More than 30 states, including Arkansas, have issued statewide mask mandates in effort to minimize transmission of COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to vex the United States.
While numerous studies have indicated the wearing of masks can reduce the likelihood of an infected person spreading the disease, one recently found that some masks perform better than others.
Researchers with Duke University’s physics department created a simple, inexpensive method to test the effectiveness of 14 commonly available masks or masks alternatives. It involved a black box, a laser costing less than $200 and a cell phone to record the respiratory droplets from the speaker spreading through the laser beam scatter light.
The most effective mask was the fitted N95 without valves. The three-layer surgical masks and the cotton-polypropylene mask followed behind as the second and third most effective.
Interestingly, the neck fleece gaiters, often used by runners, and bandanas were the least effective because they resulted in a higher number of respiratory droplets with larger droplets dispersing into a multitude of smaller droplets.
“Considering that smaller particles are airborne longer than large droplets (larger droplets sink faster), the use of such a mask might be counterproductive,” the researchers said in the study that was published on Friday, Aug. 7 in Sciences Advances.
When asked about the study at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily press conference today (Aug. 10), Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said he was glad he did not buy one.
“They actually disseminate the spread of the phlegm, if you will, of respiratory secretions outward and may actually promote it so I would not recommend, based on that particular article, the use of gaiters.”