The Physics of N95 Masks

Originally published at: The Physics of N95 Masks | Boing Boing


So that’s how those super-variants get started!


The ‘science’ of how N95’s work. Huh. Whatabout right wing gut instinct of how N95’s work so I can weigh the two objectively?


Right wing anti-maskers subscribe to the false chicken wire theory, and they falsely believe that viruses go right through N95s. It does not occur to them that through the decades of development of respiratory protection that it occurred to any scientist or manufacturer to test whether viruses can be filtered by masks but in fact there are actually even specific standards for testing actual virus penetration of masks called VFE, or viral filtration efficiency testing, were they blow air with real viruses through mask filter media and then test the output see how many, if any, virus particles got through.

Right-wingers project their own ignorance onto scientists, and assume that scientists must know as little as they do.


The junk video I most hate is the one of someone wearing a mask in sub-zero weather, and the breath-fog “proves” that masks don’t stop covid.

Duh, gaseous water molecules pass through the mask and condense to liquid droplets when they hit the cold air. Masks don’t stop air, imagine that!


Wait, they don’t? But all those RWNJ snowflakes say they can’t breathe with them on. They MUST stop air. (/s)


Google Fah GIF by FoilArmsandHog




What I cannot find is a discussion of much of that remaining ~5% leakage is due to filter inefficiency, and how much is due to escape around the edges of the mask.

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Sounds like an excellent do your own research project.

You’ll need to find some colored air and some duct tape.


I actually prefer a regular surgical mask but I used to work in the OR so I’m prejudiced.

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You might want to look at Aaron Collins (@MaskNerd on Twitter) who has done a lot of respirator testing at home throughout the pandemic, put the videos and data up on YouTube and a Google Drive and now is involved in a company which is trying to make an open source device to test mask fit. They’ve finally hired some employees, so he’s gotten back to posting some YouTube videos. Here was a recent one from December on filter media and fit.

Surgical masks were also compared in the above video, but with a best case assumption on face fit. There are, however, options to make surgical masks fit better, which Collins showed in this video from March 2021 (during which he also mentioned he had heard of some workplaces where only surgical masks were allowed).

Doesn’t have to be in the winter, either, as Collins demonstrates indoors.

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The number two thing you learned (after how to properly wash your hands of course) in Operating Room Technician training was how to put on and properly wear a sugical mask. OR nurses would even give the surgeons harsh feedback if they wore them incorrectly.




It’s even cooler than that. It’s like if Spider-Man’s webs were imbued with Magneto’s powers to not just stick to the particles but pull them in!


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