by Chhavi Madaan | 2020-08-19

Amidst the plethora of masks available in the market, ranging from cloth masks to fleece, printed, bandanas, N-95 masks, and others, studies by Duke University, U.S reveal the most effective masks available.

Wearing masks is being popularised as an essential safeguard against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Masks work as a strong barrier against Coronavirus as they prevent the escape of contaminated droplets during sneezing or coughing. Coronavirus spreads through direct physical contact with an infected person. The virus can travel via an infected person’s mucus onto other surfaces when he speaks, sneezes or coughs.

Masks prevent this transmission by covering the entire face, thus forming a protective shield against the release or inhalation of the COVID-19 virus.

The Experimental Setup to Test Different Masks

 A committee of researchers at Duke University conducted a study to test the most effective mask to prevent transmission. A cost-efficient laser set up was designed to test the droplets that escape through various masks when an individual speaks. The setup can be replicated by manufacturers to test the efficiency of their produce.

The design consisted of lasers fitted within a dark enclosure and a mobile camera. The laser beams generated a film of light within the dark section.

A person was asked to repeat the phrase “stay healthy people” five times while wearing 14 different masks in the enclosure. The laser beams dispersed light when struck by water droplets. The camera recorded these droplets, and a computer decrypted the number of droplets.


Results of the Survey Conducted on 14 Types of Mask

 The masks were evaluated on a scale from 1.0 to 0, zero being the mask with minimum droplet transmission. Non-Valved N95 masks were the only masks to attain a score of zero droplet count.

  • Surgical masks acquired the second spot with a droplet count of 0.1.
  • Two-layered Cotton masks and Apron Masks occupied the third and fourth spots, respectively.
  • Different types of Pleated Cotton masks acquired the fifth to eleventh spot.
  • Knitted Masks were indexed at the twelfth position with a d.c ranging from 0.1-0.6.
  • Bandana masks and fleece masks occupy the last two spots, respectively, with a relatively high d.c between 0.1 to 1.1.


The research team at Duke University claims that Bandana masks and Fleece masks inflict more harm than no masks.

WHO, Centre for Disease Control, and Health Administrators continue urging people to wear three layered cotton masks and surgical masks if N-95 masks lie beyond their means.

However, health executives insist that N-95 masks are not crucial for people not involved in frontline healthcare work.

Even though N-95 masks bagged the most effective masks’ title, everyday light errands can be carried out while wearing three layered homemade masks.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Tuned.

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