Health experts and government officials alike are pushing the importance of wearing face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Until there is widespread herd immunity or an easily available vaccine, masks work best in cutting down person to person transmission.
But with so many different mask types out there, you may be wondering which ones are going to protect you and others the best. According to a study at Florida Atlantic University, well-fitted masks made from two layers of tightly stitched cotton fabric are the best when it comes to blocking the droplets from coughs.
Researchers compared the effectiveness of these masks and three other styles of face coverings, including loosely folded cloth masks, bandana style coverings and cone-style masks. Using a mannequin head, a manual pump, a smoke generator and a laser, researchers were able to emulate a person sneezing or coughing and then trace how far the droplets traveled.
With a two-layer stitched cloth mask, the potential virus droplets only traveled 2.5 inches from the wearer. The second most effective was the cone-style mask, with droplets going approximately eight inches out from the mask. The folded handkerchief and bandana styles proved least effective, with leakage expanding from one to three feet.
If someone with no face covering coughs or sneezes, those droplets can travel up to eight feet around them.