Wearing PPEs Photo: Medcon.Uiowa.Edu

Face shields not as effective as cloth nose masks: Study

*Standard nose masks are much more effective than face shields with gaps at the bottom and sides in keeping droplets at bay, say researchers

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

A fresh study has found that plastic face shields many use as a standalone protective gear (Personal Protective Equipment) against contracting the novel COVID-19 pandemic, when used as standalone protective gear, are not as effective as standard nose masks against respiratory droplets containing Coronavirus.

In a study involving a simulation, researchers from the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, United States (US) discovered that different face coverings yielded different levels of protection against the pandemic.

Report says the team used laser “sheets” to visualise the trajectory of tiny respiratory droplets containing the virus.

A hollow manikin head with a manual pump was used to simulate the impact of a sneeze or cough.

While face shields successfully thwarted the initial effects of the sneeze, the scientists said they didn’t stop fine droplets from skirting around the boundaries of the shield and spreading into the air.

Prof. Manhar Dhanak, a researcher at FAU, in a statement said:  “The expelled droplets can move around the visor with relative ease and spread out over a large area depending on light ambient disturbances,”

“Over time, these droplets can disperse over a wide area in both lateral and longitudinal directions, albeit with decreasing droplet concentration.”

Though recommending standard face masks, the researchers found that standard nose masks are much more effective than face shields ─ which have gaps at the bottom and sides ─ when it comes to keeping droplets at bay.

The masks both minimised the expulsion of droplets and limited the spread of those that were released, they said.

The team also wrote: “Our observations suggest that to minimise the community spread of COVID-19, it may be preferable to use high quality cloth or surgical masks that are of a plain design, instead of face shields and masks equipped with exhale valves.”

The study findings support recommendations already published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health authorities have advised people not to rely solely on face shields because they don’t offer the same level of protection.

Officials have also stressed the importance of wearing a cloth nose mask properly ─namely, by not leaving the nose exposed.

“One is a mask. The other is a chin guard. No one told you to wear a chin guard. Wear a mask,” New York Governor Anthony Cuomo reiterated recently, following protests demanding Police reform.

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