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Style How virus-proof is your mask? Professor answers the burning question

22:20  01 september  2020
22:20  01 september  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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'It is difficult to test how ' virus - proof ' a mask is because viruses require a live host and can't be cultured on a Petri dish. But we all have bacteria in our Share or comment on this article: How virus - proof is your mask ? Under laboratory conditions, a professor answers the burning question .

Face masks are an effective method for containing the spread of the virus The study had found that surgical and cotton masks do not effectively contain viral droplets containing SARS-CoV-2. "Putting a face mask on does not mean that you stop the other practices," said May Chu, a clinical professor

Face coverings may be compulsory in more places now than ever — but how much protection do they really afford to people around you?

'A face covering should help minimise the spread of micro-organisms (including the Covid-19 virus) by the wearer,' says Val Edwards-Jones, an emeritus professor of medical microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University.

'During coughing, talking or sneezing, tiny droplets that may contain the virus are expelled from the mouth and will be absorbed into the mask fabric, rather than being transmitted to others.'

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A regular face mask acts as a physical shield to block droplets emitted when a person sneezes or coughs. Can wearing a medical face mask protect you against the new coronavirus? It's a question many people are asking But those masks don't help much in the context of a virus , Schaffner said.

Rancourt also dismisses the argument that masks can reduce the total viral load by catching your In a case like that , will a mask , will something that is preventing spitballs from coming out, protect you And the answer is no, it makes no measurable difference. There are many studies that show how

a person posing for the camera: Face coverings may be compulsory in more places now than ever — but how much protection do they really afford to people around you? Professor Val Edwards-Jones is pictured above testing a mask © Provided by Daily Mail Face coverings may be compulsory in more places now than ever — but how much protection do they really afford to people around you? Professor Val Edwards-Jones is pictured above testing a mask

But which is the best design to choose? 'The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised wearing triple-layer face coverings,' says Professor Edwards-Jones. 'But not all masks conform to WHO recommendations.'

We asked Professor Edwards-Jones, who has developed her own range of masks (everycloudsp.com), to test various types, ranging from cheap, disposable ones to more fashionable versions, to see the extent to which they prevented droplets from getting into the air.

While wearing each mask, she coughed into a series of Petri dishes which were holding a medium in which bacteria can flourish.

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Any mask that allows you to breathe therefore allows for transmission of aerosolized viruses . Studies have conclusively proven masks do not prevent viral infections. Why, is another question . Rancourt also dismisses the argument that masks can reduce the total viral load by catching your spit.

Those masks appeared just a bit less protective for people with the flu. And the masks made no difference in how much virus was exhaled by people Studies of surgical masks have demonstrated that they can block the large particles that fly straight out in front of the mouth. But small virus -laced

'While viruses can be up to 1,000 times smaller than bacteria, this gives us a good indication of how effective each mask might be at preventing transmission,' she says.

a close up of a bowl: The petri dish coughed into without a mask. The dishes were incubated for 48 hours, then the number of ‘colonies’ — groups of bacteria — was counted © Provided by Daily Mail The petri dish coughed into without a mask. The dishes were incubated for 48 hours, then the number of ‘colonies’ — groups of bacteria — was counted

'It is difficult to test how 'virus-proof' a mask is because viruses require a live host and can't be cultured on a Petri dish. But we all have bacteria in our mouths.

When we cough, some escape. If one passes through a mask and lands on a Petri dish, it can grow, giving us an indication of how permeable that mask is.'

As a control, she placed a dish in front of her mouth and coughed on it three times, before repeating the process with different dishes for each mask.

The dishes were incubated for 48 hours, then the number of 'colonies' — groups of bacteria — was counted. The number of colonies on the dish coughed on without a mask was 65.

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Studies have found that viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin and that speaking is enough to expel virus -carrying droplets. Another factor to remember, noted Rutherford, is that you could still catch the virus through the membranes in your eyes, a risk that masking does not eliminate.

You have absolutely nothing better to do so take time to build a mask for yourself. A mask is the best way to prevent the spread and allow America to get

While all masks reduced the number of bacteria passed into the air, some blocked them fully while others allowed almost 80 per cent through.

So which masks were most effective?

NB: Apart from the KN95, none of the masks reviewed here claims to be medical-grade.

Breathable trainer fabric

Cherry mask, £21.09, notjustclothing.co.uk

a close up of a girl wearing a pink shirt: The maker likens this fabric to the breathable material used in trainers. The mask is comfy, but scores fairly low © Provided by Daily Mail The maker likens this fabric to the breathable material used in trainers. The mask is comfy, but scores fairly low

Made from Diolen, a breathable woven cloth.

Number of colonies: 28

Percentage blocked: 57

Verdict: The maker likens this fabric to the breathable material used in trainers. The mask is comfy, but scores fairly low.

And the care instructions say to wash at 40c, while general advice is that 60c is best.

Silver ions to foil germs

Elle Virobloc face mask, £25.99 for five, elle.co.uk

a close up of a person: Comfortable to wear, it let through only 2 per cent of droplets, making it the second best fabric mask we tried, although it can only be washed at 40c © Provided by Daily Mail Comfortable to wear, it let through only 2 per cent of droplets, making it the second best fabric mask we tried, although it can only be washed at 40c

These are made with 'HeiQ Viroblock technology' which, the makers say, has been shown to be effective against Covid-19 in testing on face masks.

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What could potentially kill the virus is how hot the car gets, Anderson theorizes. SARS coronaviruses aren’t heat resistant, but this method isn’t scientifically proven But before you start scanning your face masks or groceries with a light bulb bought off Amazon, Anderson says they aren’t worth your money.

That said, these masks are probably able to catch some germs before they reach your mouth or nose. The wearer of the mask can protect himself against droplet and smear infections, but only to a very limited extent. Although the virus usually enters the body through the mouth or eyes — if there

They also feature HeiQ Eco Dry Water Repellency, which is said to be effective against airborne droplets, and use an antimicrobial fibre that contains silver ions.

Number of colonies: 1

Percentage blocked: 98

Verdict: Comfortable to wear, it let through only 2 per cent of droplets, making it the second best fabric mask we tried, although it can only be washed at 40c.

Good...but it's disposable

KN95 Mask, £2.99, chemist-4-u.com

a close up of a person: They are used in medical contexts but are also disposable. Of the two disposable masks we tried, this one performed better © Provided by Daily Mail They are used in medical contexts but are also disposable. Of the two disposable masks we tried, this one performed better

Designed to work with the contours of your face, these respirator coverings have five layers of fabric.

Number of colonies: 0

Percentage blocked: 100

Verdict: These are known in the UK as FFP2 masks (the KN95 label is the Chinese code for them). They are used in medical contexts but are also disposable.

Of the two disposable masks we tried, this one performed better.

Filtered yet flawed

Casetify reusable cloth mask, £10, casetify.com

a close up of a girl: The five-layer filters are said to protect the wearer from pollen and pollution, but also claim to provide more protection for others if the wearer is infected © Provided by Daily Mail The five-layer filters are said to protect the wearer from pollen and pollution, but also claim to provide more protection for others if the wearer is infected

Reusable, washable cotton face mask with a pocket for a charcoal filter (also supplied).

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Number of colonies: 2

Percentage blocked: 97

Verdict: The five-layer filters are said to protect the wearer from pollen and pollution, but also claim to provide more protection for others if the wearer is infected.

The maker recommends replacing filters after seven days — a pack of ten costs £8.

Also, the masks are hand-wash only, so can't be washed at 60c — the temperature considered best to ensure they are sterilised.

Wash and go

Ally reusable face mask, £15, chooseally.com

a close up of a girl: Four layers but it let through 20 per cent of droplets. To wash, soak at 60c to 80c for ten minutes, rinse and dry overnight © Provided by Daily Mail Four layers but it let through 20 per cent of droplets. To wash, soak at 60c to 80c for ten minutes, rinse and dry overnight

Washable up to 20 times.

Number of colonies: 13

Percentage blocked: 80

Verdict: Four layers but it let through 20 per cent of droplets.

To wash, soak at 60c to 80c for ten minutes, rinse and dry overnight.

A hole in the logic...

Durable neoprene respiratory mask with valve, £3.99, chemist-4-u.com

a close up of a woman wearing glasses: Those around you aren’t protected because your germs are breathed out through the valve hole. The second worst-performing mask in our tests © Provided by Daily Mail Those around you aren’t protected because your germs are breathed out through the valve hole. The second worst-performing mask in our tests

Washable and made from quick-drying, hypoallergenic fabric. Claimed to be effective against air pollution, pollen and bacteria.

Number of colonies: 30

Percentage blocked: 54

Verdict: Valve masks have become popular — even Rishi Sunak has one — but while they are great at blocking dust and pollution and keep your face less humid, those around you aren't protected because your germs are breathed out through the valve hole.

The second worst-performing mask in our tests.

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Cheap, comfy- but not perfect

Aldi disposable face covering, £5.79 for ten, aldi.co.uk

a close up of a girl: These are single-use masks which should be thrown away after one wear or if they get wet, as this can make them less effective © Provided by Daily Mail These are single-use masks which should be thrown away after one wear or if they get wet, as this can make them less effective

These three-ply masks have a comfortable ear loop and easily cover both mouth and nose when you are on the go.

Number of colonies: 10

Percentage blocked: 85

Verdict: These are single-use masks which should be thrown away after one wear or if they get wet, as this can make them less effective.

They are quite comfortable, but let through 15 per cent of bugs in our test.

Anti-bug finish really worked

Nudea face mask, £15, nudea.com

a close up of a girl: Comfortable to wear, even though it had a tendency to move a bit when I was speaking © Provided by Daily Mail Comfortable to wear, even though it had a tendency to move a bit when I was speaking

Water resistant, washable, one size fits all (well, most — there's also one for kids).

This has a naturally sourced antibacterial finish, which is claimed to inhibit microbial growth and reproduction.

Number of colonies: 0

Percentage blocked: 100

Verdict: Comfortable to wear, even though it had a tendency to move a bit when I was speaking.

This was, however, the best-performing of the reusable masks we tried, hands-down, blocking 100 per cent of bacteria from the Petri dish.

The only negative we found? The washing instructions don't specify a temperature.

Homemade and total rubbish

Handmade jersey mask, free

a close up of a person talking on a cell phone: The single layer of fabric blocked only 22 per cent of the contaminants in the test cough from reaching the outside world © Provided by Daily Mail The single layer of fabric blocked only 22 per cent of the contaminants in the test cough from reaching the outside world

I made this mask myself out of an old jersey T-shirt. I cut two triangles of fabric and sewed them together, then cut circular holes for my ears.

Number of colonies: 58

Percentage blocked: 22

Verdict: The worst-performing mask of all the types we tried. The single layer of fabric blocked only 22 per cent of the contaminants in the test cough from reaching the outside world.

If you're going to create your own mask, the World Health Organisation advises that you use a minimum of three layers of fabric.

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