The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new mask guidelines, recommending that Americans resume wearing masks indoors in areas with high coronavirus transmission, regardless of vaccination status. While vaccinations reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, it is still possible for vaccinated individuals to spread the Delta variant to those who are unvaccinated.
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials in Texas Tech University’s Department of Environmental Toxicology, has gathered data on the effectiveness of face masks in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
“In areas where coronavirus variants are surging, it’s in our best interests to protect the people surrounding us who aren’t vaccinated – those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or those for whom vaccinations are not yet approved,” Ramkumar said. “It’s in the public’s best interest, for the safety of others, to voluntarily follow the guidelines established by the CDC.”
The Fractional Efficiency Filter Tester, housed within The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), is a cutting-edge piece of equipment that measures a material’s ability to filter out particles.
Using this instrument, Ramkumar’s team has demonstrated that three-ply masks filter out 60-80% of simulated viral particles between 150 and 30 nanometers in diameter, respectively; thus, commercially available three-ply masks are up to 80% effective in protecting individuals against smaller viral particles.