The "new normal" is wearing some form of facial covering when you're out and about, whether it be working or shopping. It's a safety precaution, advised by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The question has always been, how effective are the different types of masks?

According to a new test conducted by Duke University, the most effective face mask is the fitted N95 (#14 on the chart below). The 3-layered surgical masks and cotton masks also performed well. This actually shocked me because a lot of those are homemade.

The least effective were the neck fleeces (also called gaiter masks), which are often used by runners. Much to my personal dismay, two of my favorite options, folded bandanas and knitted masks also performed poorly and did not offer much protection.

Face Mask Rating Scale
Emma Fischer, Duke University

The video below, shows how the test was done, using a laser that costs around $200, a box and a cell phone camera. A story by CNN stated:

Unless a person is familiar with laser safety or has optic experience, mishandling powerful lasers can cause permanent eye damage. However, the researchers are hoping companies, museums and community outreach centers will set up the test to show people which masks are the most effective.

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