Professor: Nonwoven cotton can make better face masks - FOX34 Lubbock

Professor: Nonwoven cotton can make better face masks

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The use of face masks has become commonplace for many people as more businesses reopen, and one professor says some masks work better than others.

Seshadri Ramkumar is a professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech. He also supervises the Nonwoven and Advanced Materials Laboratory at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health.

Since COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, he said it is important to use a face mask when out in public. 

"These viruses get into mucous membranes, which may be in your nostrils, your mouth and in your ears, so on and so forth," Ramkumar said. "Those are the vulnerable areas, so we need barriers for the entry of these virus particles."

With the virus has come various types of masks. Ramkumar said there are three "F's" that make a mask efficient: Filtration, fit and form or comfort. A mask or cover made of ordinary fabric may not have good filtration, and he said that can be improved using a filter substrate. He calls a mask with this enhanced capability a "FISOR."

"You can improve the efficiency of the ordinary cloth face cover by using a nonwoven material," he said.

Studies have shown it is more effective at destabilizing a virus compared to plastic, he said.

"We combined all this earlier work done by other researchers and said a face cover with a filtering substrate made of cotton will be a better solution to have better protection than an ordinary face cover," Ramkumar said.

This is a time where people can use their own ingenuity and creativity. His lab did not invent anything new, he said they connected the dots.

He also added any face cover is better than nothing.

"Simply, there is no chance that you can 100 percent social distance practice. It's not possible, so it's always better to have some kind of a barrier, particularly for those vulnerable regions," he said.

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