UC doctor: Most masks benefit both wearer and other people

Posted at 8:23 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 17:15:44-04

CINCINNATI — Most masks protect the wearer from others and others from the wearer, but the degree to which they protect the person wearing them depends on the mask, according to Dr. Dustin Calhoun.

Calhoun, who specializes in emergency medicine at UC Health, said there are studies that look at what the mask is made of.

“There are some studies simply based on the material, that materials that air passes through with particles in them, certain materials do filter that out,” he said.

It’s difficult to come out with a blanketed statement about masks, Calhoun said, because there is so much variability.

“So many of them now are these homemade masks and those are so varied that it's very hard to give a single answer as to what they do or don't do,” he said. “A mask that follows the guidelines of the CDC — they have some guidelines as to what kinds of materials to use, how many layers to use — has some filtering capacity.”

Cloth face coverings should include two layers of fabric and should fit snugly against the side of the face, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Calhoun said masks with a little more structure, ones that don’t stick to the mouth, are more comfortable and tend to last longer. Masks that have something that forms around the nose can also help, especially for people who wear glasses.