Virginia Tech study finds homemade masks more beneficial than previously thought

Posted at 3:13 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 15:20:19-05

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Homemade masks are better at preventing the coronavirus from spreading than previously thought, according to a new study from Virginia Tech researchers.

Although cloth masks aren't as good at filtering out particles as small as the virus, Dr. Linsey Marr, an airborne disease transmission expert, says since the virus is typically spread as part of a larger droplet, they do a pretty good job filtering those out.

"One criticism of masks has been, 'Oh, well, they don't work because you know it's not an N-95,' but you know it's not N-95 or bust. It's not N-95 or zero cloth masks. They fall somewhere in between. They do help reduce the amount of virus that's going to be in the air and reduce the amount that the wearer breaths in."

They also found wearing cloth masks are almost as beneficial for the person wearing the mask as they are for those around them.

Initially it was thought that mask wearing was mainly to keep people who were asymptomatic from unknowingly spreading the virus.

Based on the study, Dr. Marr says they recommend a three layer mask with two outer layers made of tightly woven but flexible material so it can conform to the face and a layer in between designed to filter particles such as a vacuum bag.

Dr. Marr says it's also important to remember that mask wearing is just one layer of protection.

"No one intervention is 100 percent effective. You know, distancing helps, masks help, ventilation helps, and hand washing helps. And maybe each of those things only helps 50 percent, but when you combine them all together, you can get a greater than 90 percent risk reduction," said Dr. Marr.

You can learn more about their findings and the materials tested by clicking here.