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COVID-19: Study Reveals Which Masks Are Most Effective Battling Virus

Surgical N95 respirators
Surgical N95 respirators Photo Credit: SMS on the rocksj / Wikipedia Commons

A new study found that the N95 and KN95 masks are significantly more effective at preventing airborne transmission of COVID-19 than cloth or surgical facemasks.

Experiments for the study were conducted by the Fluid Mechanics Research Laboratory at the University of Waterloo. The study was published online in July. 

Researchers reported that all the masks tested in the study provided protection in the immediate vicinity of the wearer "primarily through the redirection and reduction of expiratory momentum."

However, the study found that leakages caused decreases in mask efficacy. 

"Nevertheless, high-efficiency masks, such as the KN95, still offer substantially higher apparent filtration efficiencies (60 percent and 46 percent for R95 and KN95 masks, respectively) than the more commonly used cloth (10 percent) and surgical masks (12 percent), and therefore are still the recommended choice in mitigating airborne disease transmission indoors," the study concluded.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone aged 2 and older wear a mask in indoor public spaces if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The CDC's guidance also states that those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in indoor public spaces in areas of substantial or high transmission of the virus. 

The CDC does not recommend people seek out N95 respirators when choosing a mask for regular use, as they are prioritized for health care workers.

Find the full text of the study here.

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