(Gray News) – They come in so many styles, materials and designs.
A new study from researchers at Duke University tackles which masks work and which don’t.
The researchers tested 14 different types of masks, everything from N95 surgical masks to gaiters. Gaiters are the stretchy bands of fabric that go around the neck but can be pulled up over the nose.
In the study, scientists were looking for the masks that best contain the droplets that are created when people speak.
N95 surgical masks rated the best, letting through few or any droplets, study says. These masks are typically reserved for frontline healthcare workers.
The standard light blue surgical masks that many of us can buy at stores, also worked well, researchers said.
All the cotton masks they tested also worked great. Many people have been making this type at home.
At the low end of the scale were bandanas, knitted masks and gaiters.
“It’s the combination certainly of the stretchiness of the material and the material potentially being thin,” Duke’s Martin Fischer said of the gaiter-style masks
Gaiter are popular with runners.
The Duke researchers also said there’s one kind of mask they believe does more harm than good – the fleece mask, because of the size of droplets it lets through.
“What’s noticeable here is that you see lots of particles and lots of little particles,” Fischer said. “So, this is counterproductive, because the little particles that get generated from big particles, they tend to hand around longer in the air. They get carried away easier in the air.”