A highly efficient cloth facemask design

Christopher D. Cappa, William D. Ristenpart, Santiago Barreda, Nicole M. Bouvier, Elad Levintal, Anthony S. Wexler, Sanziana A. Roman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Wearing masks and face coverings helps reduce transmission of respiratory diseases. Much prior research on mask filtration efficiency has focused on fabric type, with less consideration given to mask design and shape. Here, we present evidence that increasing the mouth-mask separation distance engenders an increase in the mask-fabric filtration efficiency toward expiratory aerosols emitted via vocalization, which we attribute to a decrease in the expiratory jet velocity and expansion of the breath-mask contact area. We further assess the performance of a new reusable cloth facemask design, originally made for, but not exclusive to, professional singers and having a large mouth-mask separation distance. With proper fitting, these masks achieve overall filtering efficiencies of >93% for both exhaled expiratory aerosols >0.5 microns in diameter from singing and speaking and for inhaled ambient aerosols, better than surgical masks and approaching N95 respirators. Air exchange between the mask deadspace and the ambient environment limits the extent of CO2 buildup and in inhaled air and maintains O2 levels near ambient. The mask design also provides for less inhibited mouth and jaw movement and lower relative humidity, suggesting it may provide a more palatable, high-efficiency alternative to medical-grade masks for the public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-28
Number of pages17
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Shanna Ratnesar-Shumate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Pollution


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