Masks greatly reduce size of ‘cough clouds’, study finds

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(Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — Wearing a mask can reduce contaminated air from a cough by as much as seven times, according to a newly published study.

Researchers looked at the flow of air caused by coughing and were able to gauge the potential impact of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay found someone’s “cough cloud” was about seven times larger when not wearing a mask. Researchers say an N95 mask cut the cloud size by an astonishing 23 times.

“The presence of a mask drastically reduces this volume and, consequently, significantly cuts down the risk of the infection to the other persons present in the room,” study authors Amit Agrawal and Rajneesh Bhardwaj wrote in their report, published in the Journal Physics of Fluids.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently acknowledged coronavirus can be spread by airborne transmission:

Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space.

Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission.

The CDC says being within 6 feet of someone remains the greatest risk factor for contracting the virus.

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