Effectiveness of Medical and Cloth Masks for COVID-19 Protection

January 21, 2021

Effectiveness of Medical and Cloth Masks for COVID-19 Protection

Despite widespread adoption of face mask use for personal protection and to help stop the spread of COVID-19, there is little or no public information available on the performance and efficacy of different types of masks or modifications on existing face coverings. Important questions, such as which type of mask to buy or make, what modifications can be made to disposable medical-grade surgical masks and other face coverings, or the compatibility of facial hair with protective face coverings, remain. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers are working to change that.

In a series of projects started at the request of UNC Hospitals, EPA investigators have collaborated with University of North Carolina partners to test the fitted filtering efficiency of face coverings available to hospital workers and the general public, as well as the relative performance of face coverings for individuals with beards.

This presentation will highlight three of these projects and their impact on:

* Informing hospital infection control personnel on the relative performance of alternative materials and practices that can guide prioritization during shortages in the supply of high efficiency respirators.

* Providing a relative comparison of fitted filtering efficiency on improvised, disposable and reusable face coverings used as personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, informing members of the public on their best options.

* Evaluating the efficacy of popular modifications reported to increase the efficiency of disposable surgical and procedure masks worn by the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Examining the relative performance of protective facial coverings against the SARS-CoV-2 virus for people with beards, including an interventional approach to improve filtering efficiency for those who grow beards as a personal, religious, cultural or medical necessity.

Please contact [email protected] with registration questions.