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Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2013 Aug;7(4):413-8. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2013.43.

Testing the efficacy of homemade masks: would they protect in an influenza pandemic?

Author information

1
Public Health England (HPA), Porton Down Salisbury, United Kingdom.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined homemade masks as an alternative to commercial face masks.

METHODS:

Several household materials were evaluated for the capacity to block bacterial and viral aerosols. Twenty-one healthy volunteers made their own face masks from cotton t-shirts; the masks were then tested for fit. The number of microorganisms isolated from coughs of healthy volunteers wearing their homemade mask, a surgical mask, or no mask was compared using several air-sampling techniques.

RESULTS:

The median-fit factor of the homemade masks was one-half that of the surgical masks. Both masks significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask.

CONCLUSION:

Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection.

PMID:
24229526
DOI:
10.1017/dmp.2013.43
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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