A study conducted by IIT Bhubaneswar observed that five-layered masks are the most effective shield against coronavirus with minimum leakage of droplets. The research highlights that mask and adequate ventilation are the key steps to curb Covid-19 spread in indoor settings, a press release from IIT Bhubaneswar read.
The study explores the reach of aerosol droplets and leakage from various protective measures like face masks and shields while a person "breathes". Dr. Venugopal Arumuru who is the Assistant Professor at the School of Mechanical Science (SMS) led the IIT Bhubaneswar team in this study. The breathing patterns simulated in the study imitated typical breathing frequencies that include breathing while standing at rest and also slightly longer breaths of healthy adults involved in a moderate activity like walking, ANI reported.
"The study highlights that the smaller droplets (diameter < 10um), expelled during breathing, can travel up to 4 ft in 5 sec. It strongly recommends not to use a surgical mask during normal conversations," the release read. The study revealed that surgical mask and face shield combinations are discouraged in hospitals and other places where strict social distancing guidelines are hardly followed.
The release further reads "The leakage of the droplets is noticeable in these cases. A commercial N -95 mask completely impedes the leakage of the droplets in the forward direction. However, the droplets' leakage from the gaps between the mask and nose is observed to be significant." It adds "A five-layered mask is observed to be the most effective preservative measure with minimum leakage of the droplets."
The study has meanwhile been selected as a "Featured Article" in the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Advances Journal. The Director of IIT Bhubaneswar, Professor R V Rajakumar said "Breathing as a source of virus transmission is not adequately explored in the past. Our recent study is a step ahead in this direction. The study highlights that the commonly used protective measures like face masks and shields are unable to prevent the escape of droplets generated during breathing."
He asserted "The leaked aerosol particle may contain the virus, which may trigger the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and other similar diseases. Under these circumstances, the conventional CO2 level measurement in confined space for assessing Air Quality Index may not be sufficient to regulate the airflow. New guidelines need to be formulated for deciding air circulation rate in confined space considering the leakage of the aerosol particle from protectives measures."