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Low-cost measurement of face mask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech

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Science Advances  02 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 36, eabd3083
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd3083
  • Fig. 1 Schematic of the experimental setup.

    A laser beam is expanded vertically by a cylindrical lens and shined through slits in the enclosure. The camera is located at the back of the box, with a hole for the speaker in the front. The inset shows scattering for water particles from a spray bottle with the front of the box removed. Photo credit: Martin Fischer, Duke University.

  • Fig. 2 Pictures of face masks under investigation.

    We tested 14 different face masks or mask alternatives and one mask material. Photo credit: Emma Fischer, Duke University. For photos showing the masks as actually worn, see fig. S8 (Supplementary Materials).

  • Fig. 3 Droplet transmission through face masks.

    (A) Relative droplet transmission through the corresponding mask. Each solid data point represents the mean and SD over 10 trials for the same mask, normalized to the control trial (no mask), and tested by one speaker. Hollow data points are the mean and SDs of the relative counts over four speakers. A plot with a logarithmic scale is shown in fig. S1. The numbers on the x-axis labels correspond to the mask numbers in Fig. 2 and Table 1. (B) The time evolution of the droplet count (left axis) is shown for representative examples, marked with the corresponding color in (A): no mask (green), bandana (red), cotton mask (orange), and surgical (blue, not visible on this scale). The cumulative droplet count for these cases is also shown (right axis). t, time.

  • Fig. 4 Light scattering properties.

    (A) Angle distribution (scattering phase function) for light scattered by a water droplet of 5 μm diameter for illumination with green laser light. Note the logarithmic radial scale. 0° is the forward direction, and 180° is the backward direction. The camera records at around 90°, indicated by the green segment (not to scale). (B) Calculated number of photons recorded by the camera in one frame as a function of the droplet diameter. The red shaded area and the two solid lines indicate the detection thresholds of the camera. For ideal conditions (all photons impinge on a single pixel), the camera requires at least about 75 photons per frame corresponding to a droplet diameter of 0.1 μm; for photons distributed over multiple pixels, the threshold is around 960 photons and corresponds to a diameter of 0.5 μm.

  • Table 1 Face masks under investigation.

    This table lists the investigated face masks, mask alternatives, and mask material (masks are depicted in Fig. 2). Masks marked with an asterisk (*) were tested by four speakers; all others were tested by one speaker.

    Mask, nameDescription
    1, “Surgical”*Surgical mask, three layers
    2, “Valved N95”N95 mask with exhalation valve
    3, “Knitted”Knitted mask
    4, “PolyProp”Two-layer polypropylene apron mask
    5, “Poly/cotton”Cotton-polypropylene-cotton mask
    6, “MaxAT”One-layer Maxima AT mask
    7, “Cotton2”Two-layer cotton, pleated style mask
    8, “Cotton4”Two-layer cotton, Olson style mask
    9, “Cotton3”Two-layer cotton, pleated style mask
    10, “Cotton1”One-layer cotton, pleated style mask
    11, “Neck Gaiter”One-layer polyester/spandex, 0.022 g/cm2
    12, “Bandana”*Double-layer bandana, 0.014 g/cm2
    13, “Cotton5”*Two-layer cotton, pleated style mask
    14, “Fitted N95”N95 mask, no exhalation valve, fitted
    “Swath”Swath of mask material, polypropylene
    “None”*Control experiment, no mask

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    Low-cost measurement of facemask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech

    Emma P. Fischer, Martin C. Fischer, David Grass, Isaac Henrion, Warren S. Warren, and Eric Westman

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    This PDF file includes:

    • Materials and Methods
    • Figs. S1 to S7

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