Many people and healthcare professionals choose to wear a double mask during the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who advises the US government on the pandemic, is one of its advocates. But now, a study reveals that there is a right way and a wrong way to carry it.
First of all, the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, points out that the double mask may not be necessary if a well-fitted one is already used.
Still, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tested various mask combinations on volunteers, from a single cloth mask to folded surgical masks. They found that wearing a full coverage mask, such as a bandana or neck warmer over a surgical mask it provided the best filtration.
“This leads us to understand that the double mask is more effective due to the improved fit it offers, not because of the extra layers“wrote lead author Emily Sickbert-Bennett.
Placing a cloth mask over a surgical mask also improved fit and filtration, the study revealed. However, the same combination with the surgical mask on top did not provide any benefit additional compared to wearing a single surgical mask.
Most surgical masks are made of non-woven polypropylene layers, the same material that is used to make premium N95 respirators. Some are even equipped with an electrostatic barrier designed to trap infectious particles.
But the problem is that surgical masks they can fall short compared to fabric options. Fitting a cloth mask on top combines the superior filtration of a surgical mask with an improved fit.
But there are other ways to make a surgical mask fit better. In a CDC study of the double mask, they revealed knotting the ends of a surgical mask and fold the fabric making it fit more snugly around the wearer’s face worked almost as well as duplicating masks.
The safest thing, that everyone carries it
Both the CDC study and the recent Chapel Hill research found that wearing masks works best when both people interact they wear well-fitting masks.
“The best way to wear a double mask is when you and the person with whom you are interacting they have on a mask“Sickbert-Bennett said.
This universal approach could achieve a reduction in 95% in infectious particlesno matter which option people choose, the CDC study concluded.