There’s no doubt that this past year has been a constant back and forth of confusion surrounding the best way to protect yourselves and others from the spread of COVID-19. Incomplete studies and misinformation spread hasn’t helped much either, but some things do take time to properly sort out. A recent published study, which was carried out by a team of researchers from NIOSH and has been endorsed by the CDC, has concluded that neck gaiters can be an effective form of control.
Neck gaiters are a popular choice for the construction industry because they can be more comfortable than other masks over long periods of time, can be more versatile, and some even made with a cooling fabric.
According to the study, titled “Efficacy of face masks, neck gaiters and face shields for reducing the expulsion of simulated cough-generated aerosols,” neck gaiters worn in a single layer are nearly as effective at blocking aerosol particles from coughs as cloth masks. Worn in a double layer, the gaiters can actually be more effective than their cloth equivalents.
Face shield: blocks 2% of cough aerosols
Single layer neck gaiter: 47%
Cotton cloth face mask: 51%
Medical procedure mask: 59%
Double layer neck gaiter: 60%
To reflect the results of this study, the CDC has updated their Guide to Masks to recommend the use of double layered neck gaiters as a mask. As you can imagine from reading the chart above, the study – and subsequently the CDC – do not recommend the use of face shield to prevent the spread of the virus.
The study also underlines the fact that cloth masks and neck gaiters are meant to protect other people, not the wearer, from the spread of large respiratory aerosols, which are airborne liquid droplets and dried particles that are spread through talking, singing, coughing, breathing, or sneezing. COVID-19 can be carried through these droplets of an infected person.
It’s important to note that cloth masks and neck gaiters are not considered PPE and can not be used in place of respirators for construction tasks that require them, such as concrete demolition.
You can read the full study in the link below: