Testing the efficacy of homemade masks: would they protect in an influenza pandemic?

Item Type:

Publication

Title

Testing the efficacy of homemade masks: would they protect in an influenza pandemic?

Description

This study examined homemade masks as an alternative to commercial face masks.

Date Last Updated (Year-Month-Day)

2013-08

Citation

Davies, A., Thompson, K., Giri, K., Kafatos, G., Walker, J., & Bennett, A. 2013. Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic? Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 7(4), 413-418. doi:10.1017/dmp.2013.43

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined homemade masks as an alternative to commercial face masks.

METHODS:

Several household materials were evaluated for the capacity to block bacterial and viral aerosols. Twenty-one healthy volunteers made their own face masks from cotton t-shirts; the masks were then tested for fit. The number of microorganisms isolated from coughs of healthy volunteers wearing their homemade mask, a surgical mask, or no mask was compared using several air-sampling techniques.

RESULTS:

The median-fit factor of the homemade masks was one-half that of the surgical masks. Both masks significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask.

CONCLUSION:

Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection.

Accessibility

Available online through Cambridge Core.

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