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Five-layered mask most effective against Covid-19 : IIT Bhubaneswar study

Five-layered mask most effective against Covid-19 : IIT Bhubaneswar study

April 9, 2021
Mita Mukherjee

Five-layered mask has minimum leakage of droplets and it is most effective in preventing spread of Covid-19 in crowded places and environments where it is difficult to follow social distancing guidelines, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers of IIT-Bhubaneswar.

 The research was held to explore the reach and leakage from the commonly used protective measures like face masks and shields during breathing. It has been observed in the research that the face masks and shields used at present are not able to prevent leakage of droplets during breathing. The research showed significant leakage of droplets from the gaps between the mask and the nose during breathing.

Venugopal Arumuru, assistant professor of School of Mechanical Sciences of IIT Bhubaneswar who headed the research said that though breathing is a common phenomenon, most of the studies held so far had mainly focused on understanding transmission of the virus through sneezing and coughing.

“A five-layered mask is observed to be the most effective preservative measure with minimum leakage of the droplets,” he said.

“The majority of the past research focuses on understanding droplet generation and transport through coughing and sneezing. However, breathing, the most common phenomenon, is scarcely studied as a virus transmission source, and the present study goes a step further by evaluating the risks involved with the leakage of the aerosol particle from various masks and non-practicing of social distancing”, Arumuru said.   

  According to the researchers “a commercial N-95 mask can impede the leakage of droplets,” in places where social distancing cannot be maintained. But in order to ensure minimum leakage one has to wear the mask properly covering the nose and it has to be ensured that there is no gap between the nose and the mask, an official of the IIT told EducationWorld.

“A commercial N -95 mask completely impede the leakage of the droplets in the forward direction. However, the droplets’ leakage from the gaps between the mask and nose is observed to be significant.,” according to the institute.

The aerosol particles leaked through the gaps during breathing could travel up to 4 feet in 5 seconds, the study showed . The particles may contain the virus, which may trigger transmission of COVID-19 and even other similar diseases and the research team “strongly recommended not to use surgical mask during normal conversations.

 “The study strongly recommends not to use surgical mask during normal conversations. Surgical mask and face shield combinations are discouraged in hospitals and other places where strict social distancing guidelines are difficult to follow. The leakage of the droplets is noticeable in these cases,”  according to the institute.

V. Rajakumar, director, IIT Bhubaneswar said, “ “Breathing as a source of virus transmission is not adequately explored in the past. Our recent study is a step ahead in this direction.”

“IIT Bhubaneswar is continuously engaged in proposing and implementing technological developments to run the academics without compromising the quality during COVID-19 pandemic. In the recent past, IIT Bhubaneswar has also contributed various technologies and research studies relevant to COVID-19,”the director said.

Also read: IIT-KGP alumni raise funds for eight scholarships

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