Cloth masks are a fairly common choice and are worn by a large number of people. These masks are usually made from cotton material, and can be store-bought or home-made.
Homemade masks have the benefit of adding more layers to increase the efficiency of the mask. This has the added benefit of having multiple designs and can be an additional accessory made to match a person’s outfit. However, are they beneficial?
Studies show that a cloth mask is not as effective when compared to a medical mask. It was found that there was a greater chance of infection when a cloth mask is worn relative to a medical mask. This was due in part to the filtration system being less effective in a cloth mask, along with the added problem of higher moisture retention.
So should cloth masks not be used at all?
Well, a cloth mask is definitely better than no masks. It provides a degree of efficiency in reducing the spread of COVID. For instance, in a location or time where the risk is low for COVID transmission, a cloth mask may not be such a bad choice.
Now, even cloth masks with filters are sold on the market. They are still not recommended as the best option, as air can go out from the filter and COVID can still be spread.
Medical masks should be used by those in high exposure to COVID, where interaction with people is unavoidable.
The consideration of a shortage of medical masks for health-care workers has prompted the innovation of a reusable surgical mask, an initiative which is currently being taken at the UofT Faculty of Medicine.
The world due to COVID has led to the development of many innovative ideas and products in healthcare. It might not be too far stretched to think that a more economical and effective cloth mask be on the market to address the shortcomings of the current day cloth masks.
-By: Nimla Asgher (Intern at Science WeeklyFix)