ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The U.S. government is handing out 400 million N95 masks for free. It is in response to the CDC’s recommendation to use higher quality masks to reduce the spread of the COVID variant, Omicron. But how well do these masks really work? A group of researchers has put various masks to the test.

Cloth, surgical, and KN95 masks are the various kinds of masks available to provide protection against COVID-19. But their effectiveness has been heavily debated over the course of the pandemic. So, do masks really work?

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor at the University of Central Florida, Kareem Ahmed was involved with the mask research.

“What we found is that the aerosols and droplets are propagating at a shorter distance, around four feet, and change,” Professor Ahmed said.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida had participants recite a phrase and simulate a cough for five minutes without a face-covering, with a cloth face covering, with a three-layered disposable surgical mask, and with a KN95 mask. They then, measured how far the particles traveled. Without a mask, particle spread was four feet; with a cloth mask, it was two feet.

“We did not expect the cloth mask to underperform the way it underperformed, by getting about two feet of distance,” Professor Ahmed explained.

However, other masks did perform better.

“A disposable three-layer surgical blue-like mask can reduce social distancing to about half a foot,” Professor Ahmed added.

Particles and aerosols were undetectable in 95 variant masks. The researchers believe this study can help people determine their comfort levels.

Professor Ahmed said, “If you’re wearing an N95, you could feel safer. If the person in front of you is wearing a cloth mask, then you would want to keep your distance.”

Last year, the same team of University of Central Florida researchers identified the characteristics that make people “super spreaders.” They determined that young men are likelier to spread COVID because of thin saliva that lingers in the air. Also, if you have a full set of teeth, that can cause your sneeze to travel much farther.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.

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