Background: There is a worldwide shortage of medical-grade face masks. Donning masks can play an important role in curbing the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Aim: To conclude whether there is an effective mask for the population to wear in public that could easily be made during a medical face mask shortage using readily available materials. Methods: We determined the effectiveness of readily available materials and models for making a face mask. The outcomes were compared with N95/FFP2/KN95 masks that entered the Netherlands in April–May 2020. Masks were tested to determine whether they filtered a minimum of 35% of 0.3-μm particles, are hydrophobic, seal on the face, are breathable, and can be washed. Findings: Fourteen of the 25 (combinations of) materials filtered at least 35% of 0.3-μm particles. Four of the materials proved hydrophobic, all commercially manufactured filters. Two models sealed the face. Twenty-two of the 25 materials were breathable at <0.7 mbar. None of the hydrophobic materials stayed intact after washing. Conclusions: It would be possible to reduce the reproduction rate of SARS-CoV-2 from 2.4 to below one if 39% of the population would wear a mask made from ePM₁ 85% commercially manufactured filter fabric and in a duckbill form. This mask performs better than 80% of the imported N95/FFP2/KN95 masks and provides a better fit than a surgical mask. Two layers of quilt fabric with a household paper towel as filter is also a viable choice for protecting the user and the environment.

Cloth, ePM1, Filter, MERV, Surgical mask,
Journal of Hospital Infection
Department of Public Health

Teesing, G.R. (G. R.), van Straten, B. (B.), de Man, P. (P.), & Horeman-Franse, T. (T.). (2020). Is there an adequate alternative to commercially manufactured face masks? A comparison of various materials and forms. Journal of Hospital Infection, 106(2), 246–253. doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2020.07.024