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Researchers created a test to determine which masks are the least effective

August 8, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Schools are reopening, amusement parks are welcoming back visitors, and outdoor dining is the new way to eat out. But despite the signs that life is returning back to normal, the coronavirus pandemic has gone nowhere.

That's why a group of researchers at Duke University created a simple technique to analyze the effectiveness of various types of masks which have become a critical component in stopping the spread of the virus.

The professor wanted to make sure the group purchased masks that were actually effective.

In the study published Friday, researchers with Duke's physics department demonstrated the use of a simple method that uses a laser beam and cell phone to evaluate the efficiency of masks by studying the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech.

Encouraging the use of effective masks

But when testing their effectiveness, researchers discovered that some masks are quite literally useless.

First the test was performed with a speaker talking without wearing a mask.

Then they did it again while a speaker was wearing a mask.

Each mask was tested 10 times.

The most effective mask was the fitted N95.

While the setup of the test is quite simple -- all that is required is a box, a laser for less than $200, one lens, and a cell phone camera -- Fischer does not recommend people to set them up at home.

However, the researchers are hoping companies, museums and community outreach centers will set up the test to show people which masks are the most effective.

"This is a very powerful visual tool to raise awareness that a very simple masks, like these homemade cotton masks, do really well to stop the majority of these respiratory droplets," Fischer said.

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