Can Masks Capture Coronavirus Particles?

Can homemade DIY and surgical masks protect against the coronavirus

With the outbreak of the coronavirus, many people are wondering if masks capture coronavirus particles. It’s a lot to ask billions of people around the world to become mask experts overnight.

How Big Are Coronavirus Particles?

First things first: we need to know how big the coronavirus is. Scientists have already used electron microscopes to measure how big the corona virus is. Coronavirus particles (fancy scientific name “virions”) are spheres with diameters of approximately 0.125 microns (125 nm). The smallest particles are 0.06 microns, and the largest are 0.14 microns.

The scientific test:

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh tested different common masks by running a diesel generator (to mimic car exhaust) and piping the exhaust through the masks. They used a particle counter to see how many particles made it through the mask. Here’s my super scientific rendering of the setup:

One important detail: the particle counter they used measured particles as small as 0.007 microns. That’s over 10 times smaller than the coronavirus particle diameter. We’re talking about truly tiny particles here!

They tested a whole range of masks, and here’s what they found:

N95 mask surgical masks Respro particle capture test data

3M industrial filters were able to capture over 95% of particles down to 0.007 micron. Given that news outlets have claimed surgical masks can’t capture nanoparticles, it’s particularly surprising that the surgical mask was able to capture 80% of the tiny particles.

Masks Capture Car Exhaust

OK, but that was car exhaust. Maybe there’s something different about virus particles? In another study, researchers shot actual virus particles at N95 masks. The masks captured over 95% of virus particles.


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15 Responses to Can Masks Capture Coronavirus Particles?

  1. Pingback: The Last Word on Masks | NCRenegade

  2. Mary says:

    The ‘should we, shouldn’t we’ mask argument seems a nonsense. If you had a bullet proof vest, would you not wear it in a hostile situation? It doesn’t fully protect you either, just improves your odds. The only valid argument I have heard for not wearing the best mask you can get, is that utterly stupid people might take false comfort and not also socially distance, not use good hygiene and engage in other risky behaviour.

    That would be deserving of a Darwinian award -- kinda like walking openly into a shooting battle and not taking cover, but relying on just that bullet proof vest. A mask is just one tool in the armoury.

    I’m glad David got annoyed enough to publish all that research in one place, where I know I can go grab it when needed.

    Thank you!

    • Rabbi Will McCubbins says:

      The masks pictured here are vented for cooler inner temperatures. they would protect the wearers . However if the wearer is infected the exhalation is not filtered in any way as it is released through the vent . By standers would still be exposed as if you were not wearing it. Well unless they were masked also😷😷

  3. Pingback: Rona And The Masks | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  4. Kunkmiester says:

    On top, you don’t filter the virus particles themselves. The virus is carried in droplets of substantially larger size, and those are what you want to catch.

  5. Fr John+ says:

    I don’t believe it. for a number of reasons- first off, here is ANOTHER analysis of the issue.

    Secondly, cui bono?

    This ‘pLandemic’ is all a control mechanism. And for those of us who trust in God and Christ, His Son… if we are going to die, we are going to die, and NOTHING can stop that from happening.
    God is in control, not man. And this pisses off the idiots who think they can…. control us.

    • David says:

      I believe the scientific study over opinion any day. Yes God is in control. What does His son tell us?

      Ephesians 6:13-18 (esv)

      “therefore take up the whole armor of god, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of god, 18 praying at all times in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication. to that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

      Luke 22:36
      But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.

      We are at war with evil. You can hide or you can lead the people in this war. I suggest you do some research on the Black Robe Regiment and why the English called the Revolutionary War, the Presbyterian War. Also ask yourself if we are not a moral nation, who failed in their work?

    • Elsie Ethrington says:

      9 And Satan brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:

      10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:

      11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

      12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

      IF you’re going to die, it’s certain you’re the last one who knows whether or not, and it isn’t your job to jump off the pinnacle and expect God to save you.
      This is wisdom even grade-schoolers can grasp.

      How masks work isn’t up to anyone to decide based on faith.
      Or simple-minded pig-headedness.
      It’s a matter of factual analysis.

      And if God is “in control” the way you think it works, why do you keep your eyes open when you drive, with your hands on the steering wheel, and stop at red lights?
      Shouldn’t Jesus take the wheel?
      Or is it just barely possible that He gave you eyes and hands, and a brain, so you could use them to fend for yourself after you’ve been weaned, and old enough to know better?
      Quite the poser.

  6. Ned Crabb says:

    So, you wear a mask that filters 95% of CV-19.
    Discounting the 5% that makes it through the mask (in ideal fit situations I might add), what do you do with the mask when you take it off?
    You touch it, articulate it (trust me, I wear these things at work, and when I take it off the dust flies), and then park it in the trash (best case scenario).
    Anyone wearing a mask will most likely capture more virus and take it home with them, to spread to their family etc.

    De Facto, wearing a mask does absolutely nothing to prevent the spread of the virus, and may actually contribute to the spread.

    Wake up people.

  7. Mary says:

    You seem to be equating the use of a mask in the virus situation with the use of a mask for dust in a job that produces a large amount of dust. I don’t think they are comparable situations at all.

    My routine for going off property is that the N95 vented mask stays inside a ziplock bag while I am in my car and while I am in the open space walking to my destination. Prior to entering the destination -- usually the bank or a grocery store, I put on the mask, touching only the outside of the mask and the straps, having used sanitiser before touching the mask. I go in, do my business, come out and use hand sanitiser prior to removing the mask by the straps and returning it to the ziplock bag, which I leave unzipped to dry. The bag goes into the cloth ‘forever shopping bag’ alongside everything that was acquired on that trip. Walk back to my car, drive home, change clothes while standing next to the car, use hand sanitiser, go inside. Depending on how much contact I have had with people or objects touched by others, I may shower before settling back in at home.

    What did not happen is that I did not bring my purchases, or cash or whatever into the house. Nothing comes into the house until it has sat in the car for 6 days, except perishables requiring refrigeration or freezing. Those items go under the tap and the packaging gets washed before going in the fridge or freezer.

    Since I am arranging my schedule to not go off the property more than 1ce per week, I only need use one mask, because the virus won’t survive a week in an open bag in the car. Once the items brought in from off site have finished their 6 day quarantine, I unload them from the car. I have 7 masks in 7 bags and have occasionally used a second mask in one day, but I try not to go offsite to multiple destinations, as I deem that to be risky behaviour. Whatever the destination for that trip, I buy a 2 month supply. The problem with our modern society is it has been so benign that we have lost the skills to plan, and perhaps we have been put in the current situation to help us regain those skills.

    My behaviour patterns for addressing the off property world have changed. But let’s examine that level of ‘inconvenience’ by comparison to other situations.

    There is a part of my property that takes in part of a canyon -- dangerous animals live in that canyon -- bear, cougar, moose -- and on more than one occasion when working there, the woods went silent and hairs stood up on the back of my neck. I do NOT go down there alone without appropriate preparations, which includes packing a long gun on the ATV, a hand gun on me and bear spray in a canister slung over my shoulder. I stay close to the ATV. I also don’t go anywhere in the woods without precautions against ticks. None of that is ‘convenient’, but it has become second natures. I have never had to use my protection, but I have been in the position of standing my ground against a moose. I don’t believe I was never in potential danger, but rather that my posture and behaviours reflected my own level of ‘dangerousness’ and so I get left alone.

    It’s too bad that the world ‘out there’ has grown more dangerous for the moment, and I hope it becomes more benign once more. Meanwhile, I adjust my life patterns according to the risks.

    I happen to think that if I can avoid getting a large viral load at once, my body will get enough to develop immunity without serious disease. So N95 is just fine. For all I know, I may already be immune -- antibody testing will be useful when it comes.

    If I thought I might be incubating the disease, I would wear a surgical mask over the top of my N95 mask to protect others from my possible infection. I also have goggles and gloves in the car, but have only used them a couple of times.

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