Front Public Health. 2022 Oct 14;10:991455. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.991455. eCollection 2022.
SARS-CoV-2 spreads via droplets, aerosols, and smear infection. From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, using a facemask in different locations was recommended to slow down the spread of the virus. To evaluate facemasks’ performance, masks’ filtration efficiency is tested for a range of particle sizes. Although such tests quantify the blockage of the mask for a range of particle sizes, the test does not quantify the cumulative amount of virus-laden particles inhaled or exhaled by its wearer. In this study, we quantify the accumulated viruses that the healthy person inhales as a function of time, activity level, type of mask, and room condition using a physics-based model. We considered different types of masks, such as surgical masks and filtering facepieces (FFPs), and different characteristics of public places such as office rooms, buses, trains, and airplanes. To do such quantification, we implemented a physics-based model of the mask. Our results confirm the importance of both people wearing a mask compared to when only one wears the mask. The protection time for light activity in an office room decreases from 7.8 to 1.4 h with surgical mask IIR. The protection time is further reduced by 85 and 99% if the infected person starts to cough or increases the activity level, respectively. Results show the leakage of the mask can considerably affect the performance of the mask. For the surgical mask, the apparent filtration efficiency reduces by 75% with such a leakage, which cannot provide sufficient protection despite the high filtration efficiency of the mask. The facemask model presented provides key input in order to evaluate the protection of masks for different conditions in public places. The physics-based model of the facemask is provided as an online application.