Due to the massive shortage of N95 masks and personal protection equipment (PPE) that protect us – and especially healthcare workers – against the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I thought I would share with you a little research that I think is plausible for a DIY face mask.
It is important to note that I am not guaranteeing results or effectiveness so this should not be construed as medical advice.
I think it is super important to note that as of today 3/19/20 we are almost out of N95 PPE masks for healthcare professionals. See #PPEshortage or #MillionMaskMayday on Twitter. If you have the ability to make a few for healthcare professionals, I would encourage you to do so! There is an extensive thread about this here: https://twitter.com/MtnMD/status/1240465267597045761
Researchers at Cambridge University tested a wide range of household materials for homemade masks.
SEE: Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258525804_Testing_the_Efficacy_of_Homemade_Masks_Would_They_Protect_in_an_Influenza_Pandemic#pf7
What they determined is that Tea Cloth (a tightly woven dish towel) when doubled has the same effectiveness in keeping out particles as surgical masks, and that Vacuum cleaner bags are almost as effective as surgical masks.
National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening
In this paper ‘National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening ‘ by the American Enterprise Institute, they strongly recommend the use of face masks while in the community to reduce the risk of asymptomatic spread. They state:
” There is emerging evidence that asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is possible, which complicates efforts to pursue case-based interventions. To reduce this risk during Phase I, everyone, including people without symptoms, should be encouraged to wear nonmedical fabric face masks while in public……
Face masks will be most effective at slowing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 if they are widely used, because they may help prevent people who are asymptomatically infected from transmitting the disease unknowingly. Face masks are used widely by members of the public in some countries that have successfully managed their outbreaks, including South Korea and Hong Kong. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended members of the public use face masks in the event of a severe influenza pandemic.”
My Additional Research
The Coronavirus is about .03 microns but normally measures between .05 and 0.2 microns in diameter . What we need are household or common items that filter out the small particulates. True HEPA filters that filter out 97% plus of particulates including viruses (be aware that HEPA and HEPA ‘like’ or HEPA ‘style’ are not the same thing), air / furnace filters that have a MERV rating above 16 (I’ve hear some say 13, but I’d use above 16 to be safe), and some vacuum bags. It is difficult to find particulate ratings for vacuum bags. True HEPA filters meet these specific standards, falling in the MERV 17-19 range
More info on MERV ratings here: https://bit.ly/2QwaWX9
Given the research from Cambridge, I’d think that doubling a Tea Towel and leaving a slot in between to add a filter (like HEPA, MERV 13 furnace filter, or N95 filters) would be effective. One would also need some type of nose clamp in order to keep the top of the mask closed (like all dusk masks have). Note that there is cloth that is easier to breath through, but for a quick run to the grocery store, this idea should suffice!
This is a Tea Towel:
It is my opinions that SOME protection is better than NO protection!
How To Make A Face Mask
Because I am NOT a stitch master or seamstress, I will suggest a couple of resources for you – BUT, I would encourage you to leave a slot in order to add HEPA, Furnace, or N95 filter.
I would also ensure that the mask fits snug and that there are no openings or gaps. The metal nose clip that bends around the bridge of the nose is important.
I want to also note that double tea cloth with a filter is not easy to breath through! It will provide protection but you would not want to wear it at work or for long periods. Fine for in and out of the grocery store. My mask:
DIY Cloth Face Mask (with downloadable pattern) https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Cloth-Face-Mask/
Taiwanese Doctor Teaches How To DIY Cloth Face Mask With Air Filter https://mustsharenews.com/cloth-face-mask/
(Note my above for suggested filters is NOT tissue!)
From Deaconess Medical Center:
Here is the link to the Deaconess How To PDF: https://www.deaconess.com/SpecialPages/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask/Documents-Mask/Mask-Information.pdf
DIY Covid-19 Fabric Mask (with Filter Pocket) Sewing Tutorial:
Hope these suggestions help and hope you stay healthy my friends. As always, if you have any questions about my post or content, please feel free to reach out out me directly. ctiexec @ gmail dot com