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Study Finds Neck Gaiters Are Effective Facial Coverings

September 30, 2020

Dr. Tho Nguyen co-led the study with PhD students Hoang Luong and Minh Pham

Dr. Tho Nguyen (Physics and Astronomy) and Suraj Sharma (Family and Consumer Sciences) conducted a study that demonstrated that neck gaiters can provide a level of protection equivalent to masks when used as a face-covering. The study was reported on by Textile World and the Washington Post

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Anuradhi Liyanapathiranage, a doctoral student in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors, was part of a UGA team that tested the efficiency of neck gaiters in preventing the spread of respiratory droplets during speech.

https://www.textileworld.com/textile-world/2020/09/university-of-georgia-study-finds-neck-gaiters-as-good-as-masks-in-reducing-droplet-spread/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/09/30/mask-guidelines-covid-faq/?arc404=true

The UGA study mirrored the protocol recently developed by Duke University and published by Science Advances: “Low-cost measurement of facemask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech,” with additional enhancements for more accurate results.

Subjects spoke “Stay Healthy People” five times into each of the materials for consistency, and droplets were monitored over a 40-second period. A computer algorithm calculated the number of remaining respiratory droplets over time to determine the efficacy of each material’s ability to reduce respiratory droplets from the baseline of “no mask.” Each material was tested three times to increase accuracy and statistical significance.

Results were calculated using the droplet levels at both the 30-second and 40-second marks. Enhancements to the original study were also put in place. Instead of using a HEPA-filter, UGA scientists used a class 1000 clean room as well as a 3D printed box to dramatically diminish existing particles in the air, thereby reducing the amount of “noise” or unwanted particles from appearing in the results. MISSION, a leading provider of textile accessories, provided the funding necessary to conduct the study.

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Minh Pham, a doctoral student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy; Suraj Sharma, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Hoang Luong, a doctoral study in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, were part of a team that tested the efficiency of neck gaiters in preventing the spread of respiratory droplets during speech.

Tho Nguyen, Suraj Sharma, and PhD and master's students Huong Loang, Minh Pham, Mazbah Uddin, and Anuradhi Liyanapathiranage, found: 

  • Single-layer gaiters provided a 77 percent average reduction in respiratory droplets compared to wearing no face covering at all.
  • Two-layer masks provided an 81 percent average reduction in respiratory droplets compared to wearing no face covering at all.
  • Multi-layer gaiters provided a 96% average reduction in respiratory droplets compared to wearing no face covering at all.
  • The results are consistent with results from a recent Virginia Tech study which showed layered neck gaiters provided similar performance to the cloth masks when tested on mannequins.

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