International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health | 2021
Performance Evaluation of Commercially Available Masks in Korea for Filtering Airborne Droplets Containing Bacteria
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is a global health threat and has posed a challenge for society and social care services as well as healthcare systems. Due to the risks involved in being exposed to the virus, public health actions such as wearing masks and physical distancing are necessary to reduce its spread. However, using non-validated masks is a serious issue as such masks may provide inadequate protection against airborne bioaerosol transmission, resulting in the spread of the virus. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the filtering performances of the masks against bioaerosols as well as particulate matter (PM). Here, we evaluated the filtering performances of sixteen different masks (four brands each of woven, antidroplet, KF80, and KF94 masks) commercially available in Korea with high market shares. As a simulation of being exposed to bioaerosols and to the yellow dust commonly found in Korea, the filtration efficiency levels of the masks were tested against airborne bacteria-containing droplets and against fine dusts of different ranges of particle sizes. Their filtration efficiency levels against the droplets showed strong positive correlations, specifically Pearson correlation coefficient r values of 0.917, 0.905, and 0.894, with their efficiency levels against PM1.0, PM2.5, and PM10, respectively. The results of this study should be useful for choosing appropriate masks, including those that meet filtering performance requirements.