The Most Popular Mask May Also Be the Least Effective, Study Finds

With thousands of brands, styles, materials, and modifications, it's hard to know which particular masks are best at preventing droplet spreading. For this very reason, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill decided to test a range of masks. For a study published in December by JAMA Internal Medicine magazine, they searched for the most effective and least effective masks and found that one of the most popular and widely used styles in terms of effectiveness is at the bottom of the list. Read on to find out how your mask ranks. For more information on dangerous mask designs, see This type of face mask won't protect you from COVID, warns WHO.
Researchers tested many of the most popular styles, including woven nylon masks, layered cotton masks, surgical masks, and tied bandana masks. It turns out that many of us still walk around in masks that block the slightest amount of particles. Read on to see how effective each mask was found to be most to least efficient at filtration. For more information on masks, see Wearing This Mask Could Be Worse Than No Mask At All.
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9
3M 9210 NIOSH Approved N95 Respirator
Percentage of Particles Blocked: 98.4 percent
8th
Surgical mask with ties
Medical face masks cover the mouth and nose on a blue background
Percentage of Particles Blocked: 71.5 percent
And to know what the tell-tale signs of coronavirus are, read on, if you have these 2 subtle symptoms, there is a good chance you have COVID.
7th
Cotton bandana, folded "bandit" style
Man wears a headscarf over his nose and mouth
Percentage of particles blocked: 49 percent
6th
2-layer woven nylon mask with ear loops
People in masks leave a café together
Percentage of particles blocked: 44.7 percent
And to find out which places to avoid during the pandemic, read Almost All COVID Transmissions Happen In These 5 Places, Doctor Says.
5
Single-layer woven polyester / nylon mask with ties
Woman wearing coronavirus protection tying string ties to secure mask
Percentage of particles blocked: 39.3 percent
4th
Procedure mask with ear loops
Young woman wearing a face mask while traveling by tube to protect against coronavirus
Percentage of particles blocked: 38.5 percent
For more symptoms to look out for, see The Earliest Signs of COVID According to Johns Hopkins.
3
Single-layer gaiter made of woven polyester
Woman wears a black gaiter.
Percentage of particles blocked: 37.8 percent
2
Polypropylene fleece mask with fixed ear loops
A protective surgical mask.
Percentage of Particles Blocked: 28.6 percent
Sign up for our daily newsletter for more regular COVID updates.
1
3-layer cotton mask
A young woman wearing a face mask in the back seat of a car
Percentage of Particles Blocked: 26.5 percent
For more information on when we can no longer wear masks, see Dr. Fauci. This is the time when we may no longer be able to wear masks.

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