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Wellness

Top Face Masks for Daily Use

Credit: Duke University
Using an Appropriate Face Covering is Crucial.

With the initial rush for masks subsiding amidst the ongoing pandemic, people are finding innovative ways to craft their own face masks. Some individuals are hand-knitting masks, repurposing household items, while others choose to forgo masks and engage in confrontations with store employees – which is not advisable. While it is essential to have some form of nose and mouth covering, not all face masks are equally effective, as per a recent research study conducted by Duke University.

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The Duke study examined 14 common types of face masks, such as scarves, balaclavas, surgical masks, and homemade cloth masks. The experiment involved using a bright laser to illuminate droplets passing through the masks, revealing that many particles can traverse what appears to be a solid barrier.

Credit: Emma Fischer/Duke University

According to the study, the most effective mask is the N95 respirator, but the researchers do not recommend its use due to limited supply, which is needed by healthcare workers. The next best options include polypropylene surgical masks and cotton-synthetic hybrid masks, which are more challenging to find. Homemade masks are also a viable choice, provided they consist of at least two layers of cotton, quilt fabric, or synthetic materials. Even a single-layer scarf or shirt can offer some protection if no other options are available.

Avoid wearing a neck gaiter at all costs. The polyester-spandex material of a neck gaiter does not offer adequate protection against particles and may actually elevate the concentration of viral particles in your vicinity.

Dr. Martin Fischer, the study’s author, highlighted, “The textile can break larger particles into smaller ones, causing them to linger longer in the air and be more easily dispersed, which could counteract the mask’s intended purpose.”

The key takeaway is always to wear a face covering when in public, even if the ideal choices are unavailable. However, steer clear of neck gaiters for protection.

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