Public Lab Research note

What are the effectiveness of various household material for blocking coronavirus?

by BostonFern | March 03, 2020 00:42 03 Mar 00:42 | #22980 | #22980


Wearing a surgical mask is essential in protecting oneself from coronavirus. However, there won't be enough surgical masks for everybody. People will need to make their own mask.

A surgical mask has three layers. The outside layer is made of material that stops water droplets from wetting the filter inside. The middle layer is made of dense and yet highly breathable filter material. The innermost layer is for protecting the mouth from touching the filter.

Both the outermost and innermost layers can be made from normal fabrics. It's the middle layer that requires discretion. If people know the effectiveness of various household material in blocking the virus, they can make a fairly effective mask.

Our main concern:

Coronavirus is easy to spread and hard to contain. It's a matter of time before it reaches all countries of the world. Usually a government gives the healthcare workers the priority to use the masks. Even with the mask factories working around the clock, there won't be enough mask for everybody.

Obstacles and supporting information:

Need to know the size of coronavirus.

Watch this for a minute to see a self-sealing and reusable mask what is created by Dr. Kwong, a Hongkongese scientist who speaks Cantonese. It's called HK Mask. He uses a "kitchen paper" as the filter, not sure it's paper towel or napkin. He also claims the paper has been tested by Hong Kong University to be effective against coronavirus, although there is no data given.

Here is the pattern for the mask with both Chinese and English

How to wear HK Mask[questions:tagname]


I've learned a few more things from my online activities.

It was paper towel that the Hong Kong University found to be effective. They took different household material and looked at them with electronic microscope. They found the pore size of paper towel similar to a surgical mask, so they concluded that it's effective as surgical mask.

Of course, they looked at a hongkongese paper towel. Here in the U.S. , there are several brands and I'm sure the breathability and pore size vary.

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I also wonder about the material in a HEPA filter. It's supposed to be even more efficient than a surgical mask.

But I don't know how breathable it is. And people will have to rip their unused HEPA filter in order to get a small piece.

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