FRIDAY, Jan. 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Face masks are touted as a key tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and a new study offers more proof that they work.
Florida researchers found face masks cut the distance that airborne pathogens such as the coronavirus can travel by more than half.
The findings suggest that some COVID-19 social distancing guidelines could be relaxed when people wear masks, according to the authors.
“The research clearly shows and provides guidelines that three feet distancing with facial coverings is better than six foot distancing sans face coverings,” said Kareem Ahmad, study co-author. He is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida’s department of mechanical-aerospace engineering.
For the study, Ahmed and colleagues used special instruments to measure the distance in all directions that droplets and aerosols traveled from 14 people, aged 21 to 31, when they spoke and coughed while wearing different types of masks or not wearing a mask.
Each participant recited a phrase and simulated a cough for five minutes without a face-covering, with a cloth face covering, and with a three-layered disposable surgical mask.
The investigators discovered that the airborne emissions from participants’ coughs and speaking spread out four feet in all directions when they did not wear a mask. This compares with two feet for those who wore a face cloth covering, and six feet for those who wore surgical masks.
The study was publ