Disposable medical face masks beat cotton/polyester masks

Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer. Photograph: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the world witnessed many types of DIY homemade face masks from cotton or polyester fabric. Tough their effectivity against the airborne droplets. But recently, Fugaku Japanese supercomputer ran simulations involving multiple types of masks.

Figure: Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer. Courtesy: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images

Fugaku found that nonwoven disposable face masks, i.e. the blue medical masks everyone wearing, are more effective at stalling droplets released when a user coughs compared to woven masks made from cotton or polyester.

Disposable surgical masks are made from polypropylene and are comparatively cheap to make in large numbers. Woven masks, including those used in the Fugaku simulation, are usually made from fabrics such as cotton, and appeared in some countries after non-woven versions were temporarily in short supply.

The outcomes of Fugaku’s research were announced on Aug. 25 by the Rikken Institute, which is a Japanese-government research establishment.

The team behind the tests revealed that ‘nonwoven masks blocked nearly all droplets emitted in a cough,’ Nikkei Asian Review reports.

Though, the cloth and polyester woven masks stopped around 80 percent of particles, ‘making them effective at slowing the spread of the coronavirus’ as well, according to the website.