Improving Fabric Face Masks: Impact of Design Features on the Protection Offered by Fabric Face Masks [article]

Eugenia O'Kelly, Anmol Arora, Sophia Pirog, James Ward, P John Clarkson
2021 medRxiv   pre-print
Objective With much of the public around the world depending on fabric face masks to protect themselves and others, it is essential to understand how the protective ability of fabric masks can be enhanced. This study evaluated the protection offered by eighteen fabric masks designs. In addition, it assessed the benefit of including three design features: insert filters, surgical mask underlayers, and nose wires. Methods Quantitative fit tests were conducted on different masks and with some
more » ... ional design features. An array of fabric masks were tested on a single participant to account for variability in face shapes. The effects of insert filters, surgical mask underlayers and nose wires were also assessed. Results As expected, the fabric masks offered low degrees of protection; however, alterations in design showed significant increase in their protective ability. The most effective designs were multi-layered masks that fit tightly to the face and lacked dead space between the user and mask. Also, low air-resistance insert filters and surgical mask underlays provided the greatest increase in protection. Conclusions Our findings indicate substantial heterogeneity in the protection offered by various fabric face masks. We also note some design features which may enhance the protection these masks offer.
doi:10.1101/2021.01.21.20228569 fatcat:ytlkzfb4tzdllaqmmt4knagqry