TODAY -

Scientifically proven best materials for homemade masks
Let's end this Pandemic

Oinam Roselyn Devi *



Courtesy COVID-19, words like social distancing, lock down and masks have become the buzzwords across the globe. Social distancing, hand washing and use of masks are few things we can do to slow the spread of novel corona virus. Mask requirements have piled up against the production rates which is where the common man can make a difference by Home made masks for domestic usage.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guideline on wearing masks and advised people to wear cloth face covering masks in public places; surgical masks and specialized N95 masks should be kept for frontline health care workers who are working directly with corona patients.

A homemade face cover mask offers a bit of protection to the wearer, can block larger water or mucous droplets that come out of our mouth and nose when we cough, sneeze or talk.

However, not all fabrics performed well in filtering particles.

Scientists said that a simple light test can help you choose what the best material for home made mask is.

When you hold the cloth up to a bright light, if light passes through the fibers and you can almost see the fibers, it's not a good fabric.

If it's a denser weave of thicker material and light doesn't pass through it as much, that material is suitable for making face cover mask.

The Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India released a Manual on Home-Made Masks: "Masks for Curbing the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus".

The manual said that the homemade face cover mask should be of cotton cloth. Any used cotton cloth can be used to make this home made mask.

The colour of the fabric does not matter but make sure that you wash the fabric well in boiling water for 5 minute and dry it well in the sun for at least five hours before making mask.

Adding salt to this water is recommended, as per the manual.

Alternatively, the manual advisory said, "a man's t-shirts and cotton handkerchief" could be used to cover the face.

Meanwhile, The CDC recommends two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric, such as quilter's material (two layer cotton fabric) with a high thread count (at least 180).

A double layer of cotton cloth is about 70 per cent as effective as surgical mask at capturing small particles (up to five times smaller than corona virus).

The New York Times reported that material like vacuum cleaner bags performed very well, can captured a large percentage of particles.

Alternatively, a bandanna (a square or triangular cotton cloth tied around the neck) when layered with sheet of a filtration system such as coffee filters allows microscopic particles to capture.

Knitted fabrics are not recommended for homemade masks as the hole between the knit stitches are bigger, which result small particles to enter into the user.

Lesser quality fabric also worked well, as long as they had an internal layer of flannel (piece of soft woven fabric, called as Tera phi in Manipuri).

The fabric of your homemade mask must be compact enough to capture viral particles, but also breathable enough.

Wishing all readers a safe time at Home!


* Oinam Roselyn Devi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a PhD Scholar, Apparel and Textile Science
This article was posted on May 08, 2020.


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