Facing off

Facing off
Sure, that Buff may look cool and be convenient, but it you’re wearing it to ward off COVID cooties, you might be better off in the buff. A new study by Duke University found that while some cotton cloth masks are almost as effective as surgical masks, thin polyester gaiters may be worse than no mask at all.

Using a simple method that employed lasers and a cell phone camera to track particles released from a person’s mouth when speaking, researchers analyzed 14 different facial coverings ranging from N95s to bandanas.

“We were able to actually count the number of particles,” study co-author and Duke physics professor Warren S. Warren, told the Washington Post. “There’s a lot of controversy and people say, ‘Well, masks don’t do anything.’ Well, the answer is some don’t, but most do.”

A fitted N95 mask was found to be the most effective. Meanwhile, a gaiter described as a “neck fleece” made out of polyester spandex, ranked worse than the no-mask control group. The gaiters produced a high droplet count, possible due to the porous fabric breaking up bigger particles into many little ones, which hang around in the air longer. This makes wearing some gaiters possibly “counterproductive,” researchers said. “The exact reason why they’re so convenient, which is that they don’t restrict air, is the reason why they’re not doing much of a job helping people,” Warren said.

For its part, Buff issued a statement in April emphasizing that its products are not scientifically proven to protect against the coronavirus. “Buff performance head and neckwear are not intended to be used as medical-grade face masks or as a replacement for N95 respirators,” the statement said.

Another neck gaiter manufacturer, however, cautioned against writing off every variation of the face covering. “All gaiters are not created equal,” Chris Bernat, co-founder of South Carolina-based Vapor Apparel, told the Post. Although the study did not give specifics about the material of the gaiter tested, Bernat raised doubts. “Chances are it was a lower-quality fabric,” he said.

Other types of face coverings that fall into the “counterproductive” category are bandanas, knitted masks and N95 mask with exhalation valves. “Those relief valves are fantastic if what you want to do is protect yourself from the outside,” Warren said. “If what you’re trying to do is protect the outside world from you, it completely defeats the purpose.”

Warren encouraged people to assess face coverings with their own basic test. “If you can see through it when you put it up to a light and you can blow through it easily, it probably is not protecting anybody.”

 

Top Stories

On a roll
03/04/2021
On a roll

Bill would give up to $1,500 tax credits for e-bikes

Read More
A ferret is born
03/04/2021
A ferret is born
By Michael Elizabeth Sakas/Colorado Public Radio

Can a cloned baby black-footed ferret save her species?

Read More
A DIFF-erent approach
02/25/2021
A DIFF-erent approach
By Missy Votel

Durango Independent Film Festival moves to the small screen for 16th annual

Read More
The spirit of '71
02/25/2021
The spirit of '71

Champion DHS Ski Team of 1971 convenes for commemorative 50-year race this weekend

Read More
Read All in Top Stories

The Pole

Here comes the bus
02/25/2021

Durango School District 9-R is getting on the bus – the electric bus, that is. Last week, 9-R announced it won a $328,803 grant for a fully electric school bus and charging infrastructure. The 81-seat bus is expected to be operational by next fall.

Good QRma
02/18/2021

The days of scrawling your name and phone number with a Sharpie on your gear are over. A Boise-based company has come up with a tech-age solution to the age-old problem of lost or yard-saled gear.

For $3.99, Karmik Outdoors will send you a QR code decal for all your most precious toys. The unique code will trace you gear back to you, all with a simple smart phone scan (provided, of course, that whomever finds your flotsam, jetsam and improperly secured roof items is a believer in gear karma in the first place.)

#KBYG
02/11/2021

Adding to an already grim year of statistics, last week was the deadliest week of avalanches in the U.S. in more than a century. At least 15 people were killed in avalanches in six states between Jan. 31 – Feb. 6, including three in the San Juans alone.

To help folks better contend with this season’s treacherous and unprecedented conditions, Friends of the San Juans wants to equip them the best tool possible: knowledge.

Serving up help
02/11/2021

Early in the morning of Feb. 6, local chef Seanan Culloty narrowly escaped an apartment fire with his life and his faithful dog, Bubba. However, Culloty, the head chef at Manna, escaped with little else. To help Culloty get back on his feet, friends and co-workers are hosting a GuFundMe page. The money will be used to help Culloty replace his belonging as well as with a deposit and first month’s rent on a new apartment.

Read All Stories in the Pole