To compensate for the shortage of commercially made surgical masks, many citizens have come forward to donate homemade masks. Many people also helped in volunteering the collection of masks and providing them to the people in need. The videos have shown how easily a mask can be made from old t-shirts or old clothes. There are lots of videos circulating in video-sharing platforms that teach to produce masks from scratch. These masks only require scissors and fabrics. However, Northeastern researchers have taken the initiative to test how well these homemade masks fit and also to improve their ability to block the coronavirus.
Amy Mueller and Loretta A. Fernandez, assistant professors in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, tried to solve the problems in the homemade masks. She compared the efficacy between the surgical and the homemade masks. One of the researchers of the Northeastern has had first-hand experience in testing masks in the ’80s. She claimed that a piece of nylon over ill-fitted masks could improve its efficacy.
The traditional instrument to test masks is the TSI PortaCount. It evaluates the effectiveness of the N95 and other respirator masks. It works through comparing the measured particle count in the room and behind the mask. The researchers test all the masks and then put a layer of nylon over to fill in the gaps. The result showed that the surgical masks had more gaps than the cone-shaped or duck-bill masks. Therefore, the layering method efficiently worked over the surgical masks.
Amy Mueller mentions that the goal of this research was to provide verified information to the researchers and potential donors. She also claims that an engineer’s objective is to build things for people that help them and solve their problems.