Health Day reporter
FRIDAY, January 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) – Face masks are touted as a key tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and a new study offers more evidence of their effectiveness.
Researchers in Florida have found that face masks cut the distance airborne pathogens such as the coronavirus can travel by more than half.
The results suggest that some COVID-19 social distancing guidelines could be relaxed when people wear masks, according to the authors.
“The research provides evidence and clear guidelines that three feet away with face covers is better than six feet away without face covers,” said study co-author Kareem Ahmed. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida.
For the study, Ahmed and his colleagues used special instruments to measure the distance in all directions that droplets and aerosols traveled of 14 people, ages 21 to 31, when they spoke and cough while wearing different types. with masks or without a mask.
Each participant recited a sentence and faked a cough for five minutes without a face cover, with a cloth face cover, and with a three-layer disposable surgical mask.
Air emissions produced by participants when talking or coughing spread four feet in all directions when they were not wearing a mask, compared to about two feet when wearing a cloth face cover and about six inches. when they wore a surgical mask, investigators discovered.
The study was published on January 12 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Learning more about how to reduce the airborne transmission of infectious diseases can help keep people safe and manage responses to COVID-19 and other pandemics, researchers say.
The next step is to expand the study to more participants.
The idea for the study came from research on jet propulsion conducted by the team.
“The principles are the same,” Ahmed said in a school press release. “Our cough and our words are plumes of exhausted propulsion.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a guide to masks.
SOURCE: University of Central Florida, press release, January 12, 2022