Face masks made of two layers of woven nylon are ‘most effective against COVID-19’

Face masks made of two layers of woven nylon are ‘most effective against COVID-19’
Women are more likely to follow Covid-19 protocols than men.

Study reveals that facemasks made of two layers of woven nylon are some of the most effective ones when it snug against the wearer's face. Cotton bandanas folded and worn as bandit style masks are only 49% effective, whereas N95 respirators are 98% protective.

Written by Satata Karmakar |Published : December 12, 2020 3:57 PM IST

Scientists have assessed the filtering efficiency provided by various types of facemask modifications and found that masks made of two layers of woven nylon are some of the most effective when fitting snug against the wearer's face.

The scientists, including those from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine in the US, noted that over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a number of innovative "hacks," devices, and mask enhancements that claim to improve the performance of conventional masks.


However, they believe there have been few evaluations of the efficiency of these face coverings or mask enhancements at filtering airborne particles.

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In the study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the scientists assessed the protectiveness of various kinds of consumer-grade and modified masks, assuming the mask wearer was exposed to the virus.

According to the researchers, surgical masks offered 38.5 per cent filtration efficacy, but when the ear loops were tied in a specific way to tighten the fit, the efficacy improved to 60.3 per cent.

When a layer of nylon was added, they said these masks offered 80 per cent effectiveness.

"Limiting the amount of virus is important because the more viral particles we're exposed to, the more likely it is we will get sick and potentially severely ill," said Emily Sickbert-Bennett, another co-author of the study from UNC.


The study found that cotton bandanas folded and worn as "bandit style masks" were only 49 per cent effective, whereas N95 respirators were 98 per cent protective.

According to the researchers, the presence of nose bridges, and the washing of cotton and nylon masks, significantly improved their protectiveness.

"While modifications to surgical masks can enhance the filtering capabilities and reduce inhalation of airborne particles by improving the fit of the mask, we demonstrated that the fitted filtration efficiencies of many consumer-grade masks were nearly equivalent to or better than surgical masks," said study co-first author Phillip Clapp from the UNC School of Medicine.


You have probably seen them around, or maybe you wear one yourself: high-tech-looking face masks with exhalation valves. But according to a recent warning from the Centers for Disease Control, they aren't safe to wear during the pandemic.

While they can protect the person wearing them, masks with vents or valves release unfiltered air, potentially spreading the coronavirus.

"The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others" when people exhale, talk, cough, or sneeze, the CDC says on its website.

"Masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets. ... This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19."


Planning to buy a new face mask to protect yourself from the coronavirus? Well, when shopping for a good cloth mask, there are a few points that your need to keep in mind. The below mentioned are some of the guidelines that have been put forth by the WHO and CDC.

1. Look for masks with at least three layers as outlined below the more the better.

#An innermost layer made of hydrophilic (water-absorbing) material (cotton or cotton blends).

#The outermost layer made of hydrophobic (water-repelling) material (polypropylene, polyester, or their blends).

#A hydrophobic middle layer of synthetic non-woven material such as polypropylene or another cotton layer which may enhance filtration or retain droplets.

2. Ensure a good fit with a tight seal. Form-fitting wires in the nose bridge are especially helpful.

3. Make sure it fits snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face and completely covers the nose and mouth.

4. Choose masks secured with ties or ear loops.

5. Make sure it allows for breathing without restriction.

6. Select materials that can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.


It is important to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But masks are effective only if worn properly, covering both your nose and mouth. Some people prefer to wear their masks pulled down covering only their mouth and leaving their nose exposed. If you're also wearing a face mask halfway, there's a high chance of you getting infected with the novel coronavirus.Various studies have demonstrated that the nose is highly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

Putting on, or donning, a clean mask is a relatively simple process. First, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, then, holding the ties or ear loops, put the mask on your face and ensure a good seal around the nose bridge, cheeks, chin, and sides of your face. While you're wearing the mask do not touch the front of it, as there can be viral particles on the surface.