Face mask fit modifications that improve source control performance
Francoise M. Blachere,
Angela R. Lemons,
Jayme P. Coyle,
Raymond C. Derk,
William G. Lindsley,
Donald H. Beezhold,
Matthew G. Duling,
James R. Harris,
John D. Noti
Posted 22 Sep 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.16.21263642
Posted 22 Sep 2021
BACKGROUNDDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks are used as source control devices to reduce the expulsion of respiratory aerosols from infected people. Modifications such as mask braces, earloop straps, knotting and tucking, and double masking have been proposed to improve mask fit however the data on source control are limited. METHODSThe effectiveness of mask fit modifications was determined by conducting fit tests on human subjects and simulator manikins and by performing simulated coughs and exhalations using a source control measurement system. RESULTSMedical masks without modification blocked [≥]56% of cough aerosols and [≥]42% of exhaled aerosols. Modifying fit by crossing the earloops or placing a bracket under the mask did not increase performance, while using earloop toggles, an earloop strap, and knotting and tucking the mask increased performance. The most effective modifications for improving source control performance were double masking and using a mask brace. Placing a cloth mask over a medical mask blocked [≥]85% of cough aerosols and [≥]91% of exhaled aerosols. Placing a brace over a medical mask blocked [≥]95% of cough aerosols and [≥]99% of exhaled aerosols. CONCLUSIONFit modifications can greatly improve the performance of face masks as source control devices for respiratory aerosols.
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