Which type of face mask is most effective?

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Now that face masks are a requirement when out in public, many want to know which mask is the most effective. The biology department at the University of Arkansas Little Rock helped our sister station put four kinds of masks to the test.

There are lots of options. The N-95 mask, disposable mask, cloth mask and neck gaiter are the most popular and the ones the team decided to try.

Dr. Nawab Ali, a microbiology professor at UALR helped with the experiment. He told our sister station’s reporter to cough into three petri dishes wearing each mask. To show the difference between mask and no mask, she did three more samples with her face uncovered.

“Bacteria should grow on the plate,” Dr. Ali said.

The expectation for the mask samples is to have no growth in the dishes.

“My expectation was that all of the masks would prevent,” Dr. Ali said.

After 72 hours, the results are in. As expected, The no mask sample had the most growth. The N95, cloth and neck gaiter had none. The surgical mask, however, had a little growth on two of the dishes.

“Yeah I am a little surprised,” Dr. Ali said.

Even still, Ali says a mask is better than no mask at all.

“This does show masks prevent bacteria coming out of your mouth when you cough,” Dr. Ali said.

According to Ali, making sure you have a clean mask each day does help. He said as they are working to get back to school, in his lab masks will be a requirement.

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