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Which Face Mask Should You Use?


Masks are the new normal for everyday life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everywhere we go we see people of all ages wearing different makes and styles of masks. While having a mask you like helps to normalize these turn of events, not all masks provide the same effectiveness. Researchers at Duke University created a test in order to evaluate the effectiveness of 14 different, commonly used masks. Keep reading and find out if your mask is at the top or bottom of the list!


How did the Experiment Work?


The experiment works by a subject wearing a face mask and speaking, sneezing, or coughing into the direction of an expanded laser beam inside a dark enclosure. The droplets that spread through the laser beam will scatter light, which is then recorded on a cell phone camera. A computer algorithm is then used to count the droplets in the video. **Keep in mind that COVID-19 is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets **. All fourteen masks were tested ten different times to ensure accurate results. A control group was also tested ten times without a mask so that results could be compared to no face covering at all.


Below are the mask names and photos that were tested followed by a more detailed description of each mask:

Mask Descriptions


The Results


Here are the results of the masks from most effective at blocking respiratory droplets to least effective at blocking them:


  1. Fitted N95 ( Mask 14)

  2. Surgical (Mask 1)

  3. Poly/Cotton (Mask 5)

  4. PolyProp (Mask 4)