The use of a mask reduces the distance that aerosols travel by more than half

Researchers found that face masks reduce the distance airborne pathogens can travel when talking or coughing (Getty)

If there is a COVID-19 prevention measure on which opinions have been mixed since the start of the pandemic, it is the use of a face mask as a barrier method against human aerosols that are normally expelled when speaking, coughing or sneezing.

Its effectiveness was discussed, as well as the need to use it in open spaces or outdoors.

Now a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Central Florida, in the United States, offered more evidence that the mask works, confirming that it reduces by more than half the distance that airborne pathogens could travel.

At research work, published in the Journal of Infectious DiseasesResearchers found that masks reduce the distance airborne pathogens can travel, when talking or coughing, by more than half compared to no mask at all. The findings are important, the authors note, because they Airborne viral pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 can become encapsulated and transmitted through liquid droplets and aerosols formed during human respiratory functions such as speaking and coughing.

Among the conclusions published by the researchers, they highlighted that “Without face coverings, droplets/aerosols were detected up to a maximum of 1.25 meters when speaking and up to 1.37 meters when coughing.”

For the study, scientists asked 14 participants, ages 20 to 30, to recite a phrase and cough for five minutes (Getty)
For the study, scientists asked 14 participants, ages 20 to 30, to recite a phrase and cough for five minutes (Getty)

“The cloth mask reduced the maximum axial distances to 0.61 meters for speaking and 0.67 meters for coughing, respectively”, noted the authors, who highlighted that “using the disposable face covering, the safe distance was further reduced to 0.15 meters, measured for both emission scenarios. Also, the use of face coverings was very effective in reducing the count of expelled aerosols.”

Knowing ways to reduce this transmission distance can help keep people safe and manage responses to pandemics such as COVD-19, which has caused global infections, health-care overloads and economic damage, researchers assessed. authors.

These responses, they say, could include relaxing some social distancing guidelines when wearing masks. “The research provides clear evidence and guidelines that one meter of distance with the face covered is better than one and a half meters of distance without the face covered,” said study co-author Kareem Ahmed, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and UCF Aerospace.

As with other respiratory illnesses, COVID-19 sufferers emit small virus-laden droplets when they breathe, speak or sing.

Once these are airborne, they can be absorbed by another person, allowing the infection to spread.

A new study confirmed that wearing a mask more than halved the distance airborne pathogens could travel (Getty)
A new study confirmed that wearing a mask more than halved the distance airborne pathogens could travel (Getty)

For the study, scientists asked 14 participants, ages 20 to 30, to recite a phrase and cough for five minutes.

None of the participants are thought to have had coronavirus when tested, though it’s unclear how the results would change with an infected person.

They were asked to do the experiment under three scenarios, according to the published study, and specialized machines tracked the distance the droplets traveled from the individuals in all directions.

Planar images of particles were used to measure their speed; a phase doppler interferometer to measure droplet size, velocity, and volume flux at points within a spray plume; and an aerodynamic particle meter to determine the behavior of particles in the air. The instruments measured the characteristics, behavior and direction of the airborne particles as they exited the participants’ mouths.

Among the conclusions, the authors determined that physical distancing of 3 feet (0.914 meters) with face coverings is as effective in reducing aerosol/droplet exposure as 6 feet (1.829 meters) without face coverings.

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Reference-www.infobae.com

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