“Most scientists and health authorities support wearing non-medical face masks in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A team of UBC researchers led by Steven Rogak, a professor of mechanical engineering who studies aerosols, and Dr. Jane Wang, a clinical instructor in the faculty of medicine, decided to test the most popular types of mask fabrics to find out how well they filtered particles while remaining breathable.

How do DIY masks stack up against commercial non-medical masks?

Rogak: Our results showed that a mask with two layers of low-thread-count quilting cotton is both comfortable and breathable. In fact, such a mask with an added three-ply dried baby wipe filter was as effective as a commercial non-surgical mask at stopping particles, and almost as breathable. It filtered out up to 80 per cent of 3-micron particles, and more than 90 per cent of 10-micron particles.

Wang: The COVID-19 particle is only around 0.1 micron in size, but it is always attached to something larger, like the droplets produced by breathing, talking and coughing, which are typically larger than 5 microns. An N95 mask can filter most particles 0.3 microns or larger, but even an N95 mask is going to take in large, massive droplets with lots of viruses if it does not seal against the face. A well-fitted, well-designed cloth mask with a baby-wipe filter will be more effective at filtering 5- or 10-micron particles than a poorly fitted N95 mask.”

Learn more about their findings here on UBC researchers run tests to find best materials and styles for face masks via UBC News.

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