Fact Finders: New study finds neck gaiters may be worse than not wearing a mask

Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A mask or face covering is now, probably, part of your daily routine. But, is your mask actually working?

KOLD News 13 has shared studies on the effectiveness of masks before. Now, a new study may have you switching you currently wear while out and about.

The new study from Duke University looked at mask efficacy for filtering droplets when you talk.

Researchers tested 14 different kinds of masks. They shined iridescent light form a laser through slits in a box while someone repeated a single phrase, to create droplets. A cell phone camera was used to record the droplets.

They then counted the droplets that were let through by the different kinds of masks.

N-95 surgical masks were found to be the best, followed by the blue surgical masks you can by at a store.

Professor Martin Fischer said cotton masks were also efficient in slowing the spread of droplets.

“All the cotton masks that we’ve tested, they work great.” said Martin Fischer, Ph.D., a chemist and physicist. Dr. Fischer is also the director of the Advanced Light Imaging and Spectroscopy facility.

Researchers found a popular option in Southern Arizona, or ‘gaiters,’ were not very effective. The stretchy-bands of fabric that cover your neck, as well as fleece masks, may be worse than wearing a mask at all.

“It’s a combination certainly of stretchiness of the material, and the material potentially being very thin,” said Dr. Fischer.

The study found a bandana may not help much, either.

“The material itself, that- it’s just a little bit more transparent,” said Dr. Fischer. “A little bit more transmissive to these droplets. In addition, there’s of course lots of gaps.”

Read the study here.

How to wear your mask correctly, according to the CDC:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your mask
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily
  • CDC does not recommend use of masks or cloth masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent

Take Off Your Mask Carefully, When You’re Home:

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties
  • Fold outside corners together
  • Place mask in the washing machine (learn more about how to wash masks)
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.

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