Homemade mouth masks can be effective against spreading covid-19


Virus particles can be stopped by a cover made of two layers of fabric in the shape of a duckbill

If the population wants or has to wear masks en masse to protect themselves and others against Covid-19, homemade masks can be a good alternative to the professional medical variants. This can prevent the population from wearing medical caps and a shortage in healthcare. Anyone who gets to work themselves must pay close attention to the material and the shape. This is shown by research by Erasmus MC, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.

Coffee filters
The researchers have looked at whether people can make masks themselves that sufficiently stop virus particles. ‘The requirement is that the materials are available immediately and in large quantities. Among other things, we looked at sewing patterns and fabrics that were already recommended by various governments during the first wave, such as woven cotton. But we also looked at coffee filters and filters that are used for ventilation and heating systems, ‘says researcher Gwen Teesing of the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC.

The best alternative to a medical mouth mask is a cap made from a filter for ventilation systems. ‘Such a cap, if properly made, sometimes even works better than some masks that are labeled as medical masks. The filter must meet certain requirements. With filter class ePM1 85%, which indicates how many fine dust particles it filters, you approach the capacity of an FFP2 mask used in healthcare. ‘ With these masks, a duckbill shape works better than any other shape, such as the shape of a surgical mask. ‘The duckbill closes better. It is also more comfortable to wear because it does not press directly against the nose and mouth, but there is still space inside. ‘ A mask of two layers of cotton fabric with kitchen paper also appears to filter well.

Do it yourself
The idea for the research arose when during the first wave of Covid-19 a shortage of professional medical masks arose. Some governments in countries such as Austria, Singapore and the Czech Republic soon advised the population to wear hoods outside on the street or in public places. ‘People then started to make masks themselves en masse and the question arose: what actually works best?’

Scientists are not in agreement on the effectiveness of the population wearing mouth masks. ‘Yet it is clear that wearing certain masks does reduce the spread of the virus. For our research we set the requirement that the self-made masks must be able to filter at least 35% of the aerosols. In that scenario, an infected person transmits the virus to less than 1 person. ‘

Particle chamber
The test was done in a so-called particle chamber where particles the size of a virus particle are sucked. It was measured how many particles were sucked through the fabric. We also looked at which materials and models fit best with the skin, whether the materials breathe sufficiently and whether they could be washed.

The research was done in collaboration with the Franciscus Gasthuis and TU Delft.

The full publication in the Journal of Hospital Infection can be read HERE

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Name author and / or edited by: Erasmus MC / Sylvia Marmelstein
Photographer or photo agency:: INGImages
Source for this article: Erasmus MC
What is the URL for this source ?: https://amazingerasmusmc.nl/actueel/zelfgemaakte-mondkapjes-kunnen-effectief-zijn-tegen-verspreiding-van-covid-19/
Original title: Homemade masks can be effective against spreading covid-19
Target audience: Healthcare professionals, Policy makers, Informal carers, Students
Date: 2020-09-29

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