Size-dependent filtration efficiency of alternative facemask filter materials

David I.A. Dhanraj, Shruti Choudhary, Udayabhanu Jammalamadaka, David H. Ballard, Benjamin M. Kumfer, Audrey J. Dang, Brent J. Williams, Kathleen W. Meacham, Richard L. Axelbaum, Pratim Biswas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The use of facemasks is proven to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and other biological agents that cause disease. Various forms of facemasks, made using different materials, are being used extensively, and it is important to determine their performance characteristics. The size-dependent filtration efficiency and breathing resistance of household sterilization wrap fabrics, and isolation media (American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)-and non-ASTM-rated), were measured in filter-holder-and mannequin-in-chamber-based systems, focusing on particles sizes between 20 nm and 2 µm. Double-layer MERV-14 (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values with rating 14) showed the highest filtration efficiency (94.9–73.3%) amongst household filter media, whereas ASTM-rated isolation masks showed the highest filtration efficiencies (95.6–88.7) amongst all the masks considered. Filtration efficiency of 3D-printed masks with replaceable filter media was found to depend on the degree of sealing around the media holder, which depended on the material’s compressibility. Filtration efficiencies of triple-layer combinations (95.8–85.3%) follow a profile similar to single layers but with improved filtration efficiencies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1868
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2 2021


  • 3D-printed masks
  • Breathing resistance
  • COVID-19
  • Facemasks
  • Multi-layer filter media
  • Size-dependent filtration efficiency


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