Which kind of mask is best? – BBC News

all over the world people are now covering their faces in a million different ways there's a lot of choice about what type to wear and in some countries the advice is changing as we learn more about how the virus spreads so what are the options well a homemade face covering is the simplest and cheapest and it was promoted in 2020 because of worries about shortages of professional masks that medics desperately needed this one it's made from an old t-shirt it's got three layers so should do a reasonable job of stopping any virus that i might release which really matters because up to one in three people may be infected without even realizing and to make it more effective there's the idea of doubling up having two coverings one on top of the other because that gives you more layers to stop the virus getting through we saw a lot of these double masks on inauguration day in washington they're not recommended by the us government or by the world health organization but they are catching on next up in quality is the surgical mask these are water resistant so if someone coughs right at you the virus should be blocked they should provide you with some good protection and others around you but they don't fit very well there are gaps at the sides that tiny virus particles called aerosols could get through you can see how that happens in these lab tests they show how air and aerosols can escape from around the masks so to guard against that there are better grades of mask they're called n95 in the us or ffp2 or ffp3 in the uk they've got filters inside them to screen out those aerosols in austria they're now required on buses and in other public areas while in germany elderly people have been given them for going shopping these have a much closer fit no gaps which means you should be safer but they are a lot more expensive while homemade coverings are basically free surgical masks cost about 10 pence each while the ffb2 cost about three pounds on their own masks are not going to defeat the pandemic no one is claiming that but research shows they can make a difference look how far a cough goes when there's no face covering to stop it so anything that helps is worth pursuing but they've got to be worn and removed really carefully and they're bound to be with us for some time to come you

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