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The most and least effective coronavirus face masks, according to new study

Looking to update your coronavirus face mask? A recent study has identified the most and least effective face coverings, with one face mask in particular claiming the No.1 spot for being the most effective at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Researchers at Duke University compared 14 commonly available masks and face coverings to see which was most effective at stopping the spread of respiratory droplets. The best face coverings for preventing droplet spread were N95 masks without valves, they found, while fleece coverings and bandanas were shown to be “counterproductive.”

The main route of coronavirus spread is said to occur from person to person through respiratory droplets containing the virus when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It is also estimated that up to 40% of those infected have no symptoms, emphasizing the need for widespread use of face masks to curb virus spread.

Researchers used a simple optical measurement method of a cellphone camera and laser pointer to illuminate particles emitted by someone wearing a variety of face coverings and masks.

They found that neck fleece, or bandanas, “offer very little protection” and actually disperse large droplets into a multitude of smaller droplets.

“Considering that smaller particles are airborne longer than large droplets (larger droplets sink faster), the use of such a mask might be counterproductive,” the study authors wrote.

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