Assessing the wearability of facemasks among children to protect them from air pollution

08.06.2020

In this pilot study, an assessment was carried out to understand the perceived wearability of three facemasks (Vogmask, TuHao and ReSpimask) marketed in the UK as being designed to protect children against exposure to air pollution.

Twenty-four primary school children wore each facemask during a standardised walking and running activity. After each activity, the children were asked to rate facemask wearability in terms of parameters, such as perceived comfort, hotness, breathability and fit. At the end of the trial, the children compared and identified their preferred facemask.

The main complaint about the facemasks was the children’s faces being too hot. The ReSpimask was most frequently reported as being perceived to be the hardest to breathe through. The TuHao facemask was the only adjustable strap mask assessed but was reported to be difficult to adjust. Facemasks with a nose clip were frequently rated highest for fit (TuHao and Vogmask). The patterned, cloth fabric Vogmask had significantly higher ratings for appearance and perceived fit.

The results show children’s perceptions of facemasks are highly affected by the facemask’s design, hotness and perceived breathability. By making children’s facemasks more appealing, breathable, cooler and improving their fit, wearability may be improved.

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Bristol Medical School, First Floor, 5 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1UD, UK

Institute of Hazard, Risk & Resilience, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, Lower Mountjoy, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
UCB Pharma, Statistical Sciences and Innovation, Slough SL1 3WE, UK
Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), Research Avenue North, Riccarton, Edinburgh EH14 4AP, UK
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.



About the Author
Dr Karen Galea Head of Workplace Exposure Science

Karen is Head of Workplace Exposure Science in our Research Division. She is actively involved in a wide variety of research projects, mainly focused on exposure assessment relating to health risks. Her workplace based research has included inhalation, dermal and biomonitoring exposure assessment in a range of industrial sectors, exposure model validation and evaluation, historical hygiene assessment etc. Her research has also extended beyond the working environment e.g. pesticide biomonitoring in residents living near agricultural land, consumer exposure to diesel and lubricating oils, use of low cost sensors by citizens and use of respiratory protection against volcanic ash.

Contact Details:

  • Section Head - Workplace Exposure Science
  • Office: +44 (0) 131 449 8034
  • Mobile: +44 (0) 7818 426 612
  • Email: karen.galea@iom-world.org

Qualifications:

  • PhD Environmental Medicine
  • MSc Occupational Hygiene
  • BSc (Hons) Environmental Health (First Class)

Committee and Society Memberships:

  • Member of the British Occupational Hygiene Society
  • Committee member of the UK & Ireland Exposure Science meetings
  • Member of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (MIEnvSc)
  • Member of the Institute of Science and Technology (MIScT)
  • Member of the ISO/TC 146/SC 2/WG 8 "Assessment of contamination of skin and surfaces from airborne chemicals" committees
  • Member of the British Standards Institute ‘EH/002/02 Work place atmospheres’ committee

Research Interests:

Highlighted current research interests include:

  • HBM4EU - https://www.hbm4eu.eu/, in particular the European human biological monitoring study on occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium.
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