As the world struggles through the grip of the global corona pandemic, the question people are beginning to ask when they have to go out in public for essential work or to buy food is, what are the best materials for coronavirus masks? Supplies of PPE are stretched, so people are turning to alternatives such as other types of masks or even attempting homemade ones.
Scientists are now testing out different types of materials to see which performs best. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has even shared a how-to on DIY masks made with rubber bands and fabric. But there are questions about how well these masks perform.
Face masks to protect during the corona pandemic have two functions: 1) they act as a barrier to incoming germs, such as infected droplets from the coughs or sneezes of others, and 2) they also shield others against the exhalations of the wearer. They may also provide a third function in providing a physical barrier to stop wearers touching their nose and mouth if they have traces on their hands picked up from other surfaces.
Materials which have scored well in scientific testing including HEPA filters normally found in vacuums or furnaces, 600 thread count pillowcases, and flannel pajamas. Other materials which performed moderately well included stacked coffee filters. On the lower end of the quality score, scarves and bandanas – which are widely used.
It was also stated that simply holding a material up to a light source and seeing how much light penetrates is a good guide to how suitable it is as a coronavirus mask.