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Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(6)2022 03 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1742479


Face masking proved essential to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections in indoor environments, but standards and literature do not provide simple quantitative methods for quantifying air leakage at the face seal. This study reports an original method to quantify outward leakage and how wearing style impacts on leaks and filtration efficiency. The amount of air leakage was evaluated on four medical masks and four barrier face coverings, exploiting a theoretical model and an instrumented dummy head in a range of airflows between 30 and 160 L/min. The fraction of air leaking at the face seal of the medical masks and barrier face coverings ranged from 43% to 95% of exhaled air at 30 L/min and reduced to 10-85% at 160 L/min. Filter breathability was the main driver affecting both leak fraction and total filtration efficiency that varied from 5% to 53% and from 15% to 84% at 30 and 160 L/min, respectively. Minor changes were related to wearing style, supporting indications on the correct mask use. The fraction of air leaking from medical masks and barrier face coverings during exhalation is relevant and varies according to design and wearing style. The use of highly breathable filter materials reduces air leaks and improve total filtration efficiency.

COVID-19 , Masks , COVID-19/prevention & control , Filtration , Humans
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(4)2021 02 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1063402


The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a broader use of masks by both professionals and the general population. This resulted in a severe worldwide shortage of devices and the need to increase import and activate production of safe and effective surgical masks at the national level. In order to support the demand for testing surgical masks in the Italian context, Universities provided their contribution by setting up laboratories for testing mask performance before releasing products into the national market. This paper reports the effort of seven Italian university laboratories who set up facilities for testing face masks during the emergency period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Measurement set-ups were built, adapting the methods specified in the EN 14683:2019+AC. Data on differential pressure (DP) and bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) of 120 masks, including different materials and designs, were collected over three months. More than 60% of the masks satisfied requirements for DP and BFE set by the standard. Masks made of nonwoven polypropylene with at least three layers (spunbonded-meltblown-spunbonded) showed the best results, ensuring both good breathability and high filtration efficiency. The majority of the masks created with alternative materials and designs did not comply with both standard requirements, resulting in suitability only as community masks. The effective partnering between universities and industries to meet a public need in an emergency context represented a fruitful example of the so-called university "third-mission".

COVID-19/prevention & control , Laboratories , Masks/standards , Pandemics , Humans , Italy