Recent research done to test the efficacy of cloth masks has revealed that it is not much protection from getting infected. But like most masks, having one worn is better than none.
During the pandemic, when shortages of PPE's were common and they were hoarded and sold at exorbitant prices, the only option was a cloth mask to protect against getting infected with the coronavirus. Such masks are fashionable and in many designs, reported Asahi.
According to Kazunari Onishi, they discovered that cloth masks were leaking at a 100% rate! This was compounded by airborne particles that could penetrate the mask fabric. It happens via the gaps when on the face that may or may not offer the protection needed.
One of his specialties is in environmental epidemiology were testing how well types of masked will protect from the coronavirus. Masks of different materials might have a different degree of protection when used.
Citing examples like non-woven masks that might have passed filtering could not protect sufficiently. Sometimes, the problem is how the mask is worn particularly, especially if the wearing of the mask is done improperly that can affect the filtering performance. If worn the right way, it lowers the leakage rate to just 50%. It may sound good but there is 50% left for infection to set in, cited C&En.
It is crucial to select the right face mask and wear them properly. Whatever mask is worn does not matter if it does not keep leakage out.
How to measure the efficacy of masks
Getting the exact degree of protection measure to the last accurate particles will need specialized equipment for accurate measurement. What is registered by the machines is the number of particles no more than 0.3 micrometer in the air. Another crucial factor is how many particles are the right in the space of masks and faces that determines quite a bit how well a mask will protect.
The types of masks that were tested were those made from these kinds of materials. All have varying degrees of blocking out the COVID-19.
Materials tested for how protective they are are cloth, non-woven masks, dust masks that met the N95 standard, and even gauzy face masks given by the government.
One can consider the dissimilarities of non-woven masks and dust masks which have varying leakage rates. Of course, it will depend if a wearer puts it on casually or properly.
He discovered that cloth and gauzy masks were leaking at 100% which is alarming.
But, for dust masks that were measured to have the least leakage at 1% only, if worn the right way. If just casually worn that is about 6% leakage.
For those made of non-woven cloth, those passing the filtering tests got a 52% leakage factor. An 81% rate of leaks was not deemed safe and it was omitted.
The casual wearing of masks will have not provide any protection to the wearer and it is like not wearing one at all.
The data just confirmed that cloth and gauzy masks are not 100% able to keep the bug out.
But masks will keep droplets by coughs and prevent touching noses and the mouth to be within reach of virus-laden hands, confirmed AG Department of Health.
Related article: Should Everyone Wear Face Masks During COVID-19 Pandemic?