We are living in a world of new normal. And masks are obviously one inevitable part of this new normal.
The new research suggests that a three-layered mask is safe than single or double-layered clothing. They are proven to be most effective at preventing aerosol generation. The study is carried out by scientists in UC San Diego and the University of Toronto Engineering in collaboration with researchers at Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
When a person coughs or sneeze, large droplets (greater than 200 microns) will hit the inner surface of a mask at a high speed. These can penetrate the mask’s fabric and break up or ‘atomise’ into smaller droplets which will result in aerosolisation and thereby carrying viruses with them. The single and double-layered mask provide protection in blocking out some of the liquid volumes of the original droplets.
They get atomised when they hit a single-layer mask and several droplets pass through that layer. The study also mentioned that for single and double-layered masks, most of these atomised droplets were smaller than 100 microns with the potential to become aerosols. These droplets can remain suspended in the air for a long time and potentially cause infection.
Meanwhile the studies imply that the three-layered surgical masks are also effective in stopping large droplets from a sneeze or cough from getting atomised into smaller droplets. The researchers used a droplet generator and high-speed cameras to track individual cough-like droplets containing virus emulating particles (VEPs).
But at the same time, researchers said that if three-layered masks are unavailable, even a single-layered mask can offer protection to an extend.