by Nila | 1 July 2020 1:08 am
Without a mask, droplets traveled more than eight feet, with a bandana, they traveled three feet seven inches, and with a folded cotton handkerchief, they traveled 1 foot, 3 inches.
Cough droplets travelled just 2.5 inches when covered by a stitched quilted cotton mask, and with the cone-style mask, droplets traveled about eight inches.
Study leader Dr Siddhartha Verma, an assistant professor at FAU, said they wanted to convey to the public the important of social distancing and face masks.
‘Promoting widespread awareness of effective preventive measures is crucial at this time as we are observing significant spikes in cases of COVID-19 infections in many states, especially Florida,’ he said.
Importantly, uncovered simulated coughs were able to travel noticeably further than current distancing guidelines – between three and six feet.
When the mannequin was not fitted with a mask, they projected droplets up to 12 feet within approximately 50 seconds with droplets suspended in the air for up to three minutes.
The researchers said their observations suggest that current social-distancing guidelines may need to be increased rather than reduced.
With a folded cotton handkerchief, droplets traveled 1 foot, 3 inches, according to the team
In the UK Boris Johnson announced a new 1 metre plus rule, where two metres (or 6ft) was still required but could be dropped with the addition of protective equipment such as face masks and protective screens.
Study author Professor Manhar Dhanak said: ‘We found that although the unobstructed turbulent jets were observed to travel up to 12 feet, a large majority of the ejected droplets fell to the ground by this point.
‘Importantly, both the number and concentration of the droplets will decrease with increasing distance, which is the fundamental rationale behind social-distancing.’
Apart from COVID-19, respiratory droplets also are the primary means of transmission for various other viral and bacterial illnesses.
With the cone-style mask, droplets traveled about 8 inches – the second best performing mask
This includes conditions such as the common cold, influenza, tuberculosis, SARS and MERS, according to the Florida researchers.
These pathogens are carried by respiratory droplets, which may land on healthy individuals and result in direct transmission.
When the pathogens land on objects they can lead to infection when a healthy individual comes in contact with them.
Dr Batalama, from FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, said that the study findings evidence the need for key workers to set up simple experiments to test the quality of their PPE.
She added: ‘Their research outlines the procedure for setting up simple visualisation experiments using easily available materials, which may help healthcare professionals, medical researchers, and manufacturers in assessing the effectiveness of face masks and other personal protective equipment qualitatively.’
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