“Many people do not realize that the fit of face masks can vary. There are different face shapes and different sizes of masks,” said Rupak Banerjee, a professor in UC’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.
The team used three different-sized N95 face masks from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health attached to three different-sized mannequin heads identified as small, medium, and large. Using Computerized Tomography (CT), they created a 3D computer-aided design model. The gaps between the masks and the face of each dummy head were calculated.
The key findings from their assessment are,
The airflow rate through the gaps of loose-fitting masks contributed from 30% to 95% of aerosol transport.
The air leaks were around the nose most of the time.
The worst-fitting masks can reduce masking power and double the infection risk to the wearers and people around them.
Banerjee is the also the editor of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Journal of Medical Devices. He said that the team would have a special issue soon about pandemic-response medical devices , including face masks and face shields.
“We’re still not sure how effective the vaccine is on the variants. So, it’s a good idea to continue wearing masks in gatherings for now,” he added.
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