Speech air flow with and without face masks (2022)
Face masks slow exhaled air flow and sequester exhaled particles. There are many types of face masks on the market today, each having widely varying fits, filtering, and air redirection characteristics. While particle filtration and flow resistance from masks has been well studied, their effects on speech air flow has not. We built a schlieren system and recorded speech air flow with 14 different face masks, comparing it to mask-less speech. All of the face masks reduced air flow from speech, but some allowed air flow features to reach further than 40 cm from a speaker’s lips and nose within a few seconds, and all the face masks allowed some air to escape above the nose. Evidence from available literature shows that distancing and ventilation in higher-risk indoor environment provide more benefit than wearing a face mask. Our own research shows all the masks we tested provide some additional benefit of restricting air flow from a speaker. However, well-fitted mask specifically designed for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease reduce air flow the most. Future research will study the effects of face masks on speech communication in order to facilitate cost/benefit analysis of mask usage in various environments.
CitationDerrick D, Kabaliuk N, Longworth L, Pishyar-Dehkordi P, Jermy M (2022). Speech air flow with and without face masks. Scientific Reports. 12(1).
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ANZSRC Fields of Research42 - Health sciences::4206 - Public health::420605 - Preventative health care
32 - Biomedical and clinical sciences::3202 - Clinical sciences::320211 - Infectious diseases
42 - Health sciences::4203 - Health services and systems::420312 - Implementation science and evaluation
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