Leakage from masks during breathing likely to trigger transmission of Covid 19

Bhubaneswar, Apr 8 (FN Representative) Aerosol droplets’ reach and leakage from various protective measures like face masks and shields during breathing might trigger the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and other similar diseases, a recent study conducted at IIT Bhubaneswar said. The study was conducted by Dr Venugopal Arumuru, Assistant Professor, School of Mechanical Science (SMS), and his team. Director, IIT Bhubaneswar, Prof RV Rajakumar, while congratulating the team for conducting a relevant and relatively unexplored study said breathing as a source of virus transmission” is not adequately explored in the past. Our recent study is a step ahead in this direction.’’

He said “The study highlights that the commonly used protective measures like face masks and shields are unable to prevent the escape of droplets generated during breathing. The leaked aerosol particle may contain the virus, which may trigger the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and other similar diseases. Under these circumstances, the conventional CO2 level measurement in confined space for assessing Air Quality Index may not be sufficient to regulate the airflow The study highlights that the smaller droplets (diameter < 10μm), expelled during breathing, can travel up to 4 ft in 5 sec. The study strongly recommends not to use a surgical mask during normal conversations.

Surgical mask and face shield combinations are discouraged in hospitals and other places where strict social distancing guidelines are difficult to follow. A commercial N -95 mask completely impedes the leakage of the droplets in the forward direction. However, the droplets’ leakage from the gaps between the mask and nose is observed to be significant, the study said and suggested that a five-layered mask is observed to be the most effective preservative measure with minimum leakage of the droplets. Dr Venugopal said the majority of the past research focuses on understanding droplet generation and transport through the leakage of the aerosol particle.

The breathing pattern is simulated at the exit of a standard mannequin’s nose, using air and fog as tracer particles. Coughing and Sneezing. However, “Breathing,” the most common phenomenon, is scarcely studied as a virus transmission source, and the present study goes a step further by evaluating the risks involved with various masks and non-practising of social distancing.” The breathing patterns simulated in the study imitated typical breathing frequencies that include breathing while standing at rest and also slightly longer breaths of healthy adults involved in a moderate activity like walking.