Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Rene' R. Salazar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Mlynarek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Bernard, Ph.D.


Respirators, Materials, Filtration Efficiency, Transmission


In 2019, a novel respiratory illness appeared in China and spread rapidly though the country. It was determined that the SARS–CoV-2 virus was the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of 2020, almost every continent was experiencing the effects of COVID-19. The virus caused health officials difficulty in determining its route of transmission. They worked tirelessly to discover it was spread via respiratory droplets. Panicked buyers wiped out protective equipment like medical masks and respirators, regardless of what was needed. Essential employees and first responders were subject to large scale personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages as health organizations strengthened their understanding of COVID-19. Health organizations published guidelines for the creation of homemade face masks. Filtration efficiency, fit, and user tendencies were all questioned for their effect on the efficacy of a homemade mask. While research regarding mask alternatives is ongoing, it is clear that some characteristics do greatly improve mask effectiveness. Components like a nose clip, double cloth layer, and coffee filter are believed to increase effectiveness of some homemade masks. Ultimately, any facial covering provides a rudimentary barrier for expelled respiratory droplets. This study reviewed face mask filtration efficiencies utilizing material, design characteristics, and user tendencies in the scope of COVID-19. The findings of this study concluded that filtration efficiency of homemade masks is not comparable to respirators. Inadequate mask fit and poor user tendencies lead to an increase in likelihood of COVID-19 transmission.