While neck gaiters may be more stylish than traditional protective masks, a new study claims wearing them may be worse than wearing nothing at all.
The study, authored by Duke University professors, found the porous neck fleece breaks up moisture droplets into several tiny ones, allowing them to remain airborne for longer periods of time.
The revelation means the lightweight face coverings are less effective than not wearing a mask at all, says co-author Warren S. Warren, a professor of physics, chemistry, radiology and biomedical engineering at Duke.
“These neck gaiters are extremely common in a lot of places because they’re very convenient to wear,” Warren says. “But the exact reason why they’re so convenient, which is that they don’t restrict air, is the reason why they’re not doing much of a job helping people.”
In what’s likely a surprise to absolutely no one, the study found the most effective face covering is a fitted N95 mask, which is commonly worn by hospital workers.