Lee Teschler, Executive Editor, DesignWorld
It looks as though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may end up strongly suggesting that Americans cover their faces in public until the coronavirus pandemic plays out. The Washington Post reports the recommendations now being floated would call for the use of cloth coverings instead of hard-to-find surgical and N95 masks.
This great masking of the masses will most likely result in a mushrooming cottage industry for home-made masks fashioned out of non-traditional materials. Of course, some materials make better masks than others. Here’s what’s actually known.
A single study made in 2013 comprises most of what is known about make-shift surgical mask material. Researchers in the UK looked at how nine common materials – a cotton T shirt, a scarf, a tea towel, a pillowcase, an antimicrobial pillowcase, a vacuum cleaner bag, linen, silk, and a mix of cotton– compared with the performance of a surgical mask. They measured both filtration efficiency and the pressure drop across the fabric using both a single and a double layer of each material.