Best Materials to Use if For a Homemade Mask
Wearing a mask is a good strategy to curb the spread of coronavirus. While CDC is recommending to keep the N95 and surgical masks for the health workers and if you need or want a mask you should make or purchase a mask made up of cloth.
However, making a mask at home come up with many challenges.
- Which materials are to be used
- what type of mask would help in keeping the germs out
- can we check all boxes at home to make an effective mask
Experiment by Researchers
Argonne National Laboratory joined hands with the University of Chicago in the United States to test commonly available materials and check the properties of these materials to draw a conclusion which material is more effective in filtering the particles.
Researchers found that combining multiple layers of fabrics can work to filter the particles. While it is important to note that improper fitting can ruin the effectiveness of the mask.
They said that “We have carried out these studies for several common fabrics including cotton, silk, chiffon, flannel, various synthetics and their combinations. Overall, we find that combinations of various commonly available fabrics used in cloth masks can potentially provide significant protection against the transmission of aerosol particles.”
The team very intensely experimented with different materials and used an aerosol mixing chamber to sample the number of aerosols in the air. Particles are then passed through each of the test fabrics and the air is sampled which came out of the material. A range of particles was used in the experiment from 10 nanometers to 10-micrometre size. While coronavirus particles size is between 80 to 120 nanometer.
The experiments show that filtration efficiencies of the hybrid materials. such as cotton and silk, cotton and chiffon, cotton and flannel were greater than 80% for the particles which are of less than 300-nanometer size. While the efficiency was 90% for the particles greater than 300 nanometers.
For mechanical filtration cotton fabric with high thread count works the best. While for electrostatic filtration super static materials like polyester works better.
They also made it very clear that any sort of material used in the mask is pretty much useless if you do not wear the mask properly. Further in the experiment, they poked small holes in the fabric and tested them again. This was done to mimic a situation where the mask is not used properly. Results show a decrease of over 60% in filtration efficiency. Furthermore, CDC has also elaborated on how to cover your mouth and face by different methods.
The research has been published in ACS Nano