FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Scott Sanders, [email protected], (608) 262-3540
IMAGE AND VIDEO: https://uwmadison.box.com/v/mask-cough-tests
COUGHING VISUALIZATION ILLUSTRATES THE BENEFITS OF WEARING A GOOD MASK
MADISON – Coupling function with fashion, cloth and home-sewn face masks are available in a variety of forms and fabrics. While experts underscore that wearing a mask is effective in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, not all masks – or the materials with which they’re made – contain virus particles equally.
In a new video, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineer Scott Sanders demonstrates how droplets from a cough escape from or remain inside masks of varying styles and materials.
A mechanical engineering professor who conducts much of his research through the UW-Madison Engine Research Center, Sanders uses lasers to characterize the way gases and particles behave in combustion engines.
Pivoting to study mask materials, construction, fit and filtration as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged was natural, since a cough or sneeze can spray particles in a size range that Sanders could study with the tools he already uses in combustion systems research.
In his video, Sanders used a mannequin to produce a simulated cough (adding more droplets than are in an actual cough, to make the cough easier to see). While the visualization doesn’t directly track the spread of virus particles, Sanders believes it will help people see a risk that is otherwise invisible.
With no mask, droplets travel more than 3 feet in front of the mannequin. Masks with valves allow many particles to escape. Cloth masks do a better job of containing the particles; however, cloth masks with a loose weave don’t perform as well as those made with tightly woven cloth. And, masks without fitted nose pieces allow particles to escape through gaps in the top, under the wearer’s eyes. Other mask styles, including flat-fold masks, can leak particles out the sides near the ears.