IIT-Bhubaneswar Study Shows Why Social Distancing Is Important Even While Wearing Masks

Bhubaneswar: Protective measures like face mask and face shield effectively reduce the leakage and reach of the sneeze within 1ft–3ft. However, they do not completely stop the leakage of smaller droplets. Hence, social distancing is equally important.

These are the highlights of the study on the efficacy of various nonstandard and standard face masks under the act of sneezing, conducted by Assistant Professor, School of Mechanical Science (SMS), Dr Venugopal Arumuru, and his team at IIT-Bhubaneswar.

The study recommends the use of elbow or hand to prevent droplets leakage even after wearing a mask during coughing and sneezing. The study further confirms that without protectives measures like a face mask, the smaller droplets expelled during a sneeze can travel up to 25ft in 22s in a stagnant environment.

It recommends a social distancing of 6ft from all orientations to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

“Our flow visualization study shows how smaller particles escape from the various face mask and how far they travel during sneezing. The importance of social distancing is visually evident from this study, which will educate the general public on the importance of the face mask and social distancing to prevent transmission of COVID‐ 19. Our proposed simple experimental setup can be used to test new face mask designs. The sneeze is simulated at the exit of the nose of a standard mannequin, using air and tracer particles,” said Dr Venugopal Arumuru.

IIT-Bhubaneswar director Prof R V Rajakumar congratulated the team for conducting such focused studies on present societal relevance.

“The faculty and students groups of the Institute have worked tirelessly during the COVID‐19 pandemic by coming up with technology development and research studies of high societal relevance,” he said.

He further said that the importance of social distancing is clearly evident from this study.

“These results will not only spread awareness but will motivate researchers to bring innovation to face mask design,” he added.

The peer‐reviewed article has been selected as a “Featured Article” in Physics of Fluids Journal by the American Physical Societ

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