Reinventing Cloth Masks in the Face of Pandemics

» Posted on Apr 27, 2021

Reinventing Cloth Masks in the Face of Pandemics

Working as volunteers in 2020, we developed a simple way to use inexpensive and widely-available materials to make effective face masks for the public. The mask design was tested by three facilities in Canada and the USA, and was found to have a filtering effectiveness against aerosol particles of 76% to 90%. We estimated that if this kind of mask were given to the public, the cost would be approximately 0.2% of the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic to Canada in 2020.

We also tested eleven face masks of the kind Canadians commonly wore during the COVID-19 pandemic, and found their average filtering efficiency varied from 3% to 50%, with an average below 25%. None of the masks we were able to buy for testing were made in Canada.

We believe that if Canada organized domestic manufacturers to produce more effective masks for the public, and by so doing tripled the average effectiveness of masks, then transmission of COVID-19 would decrease.

The idea of an Effective Mask Program was published by the International Journal of Risk Analysis in the paper “Reinventing Cloth Masks in the Face of Pandemics” on September 24, 2020.

If you would like to read more about the idea of Effective Mask Programs, please see Canada Sewing Hope, About Masks.