A technical review of face mask wearing in preventing respiratory COVID-19 transmission

Mingrui Liao, Huayang Liu, Xi Wang, Xuzhi Hu, Yuhao Huang, Xuqing Liu, Keith Brenan, Jared Mecha, Mahesh Nirmalan, Jian Ren Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries have recommended their citizens to adopt social distance, hand hygiene, and face mask wearing. However, wearing face masks has not been well adopted by many citizens. While the reasons are complex, there is a general perception that the evidence to support face mask wearing is lacking, especially for the general public in a community setting. Face mask wearing can block or filter airborne virus-carrying particles through the working of colloid and interface science. This paper assesses current knowledge behind the design and functioning of face masks by reviewing the selection of materials, mask specifications, relevant laboratory tests, and respiratory virus transmission trials, with an overview of future development of reusable masks for the general public. This review highlights the effectiveness of face mask wearing in the prevention of COVID-19 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101417
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date29 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • aerosols
  • airborne colloids
  • fabric
  • face masks
  • fibers
  • filtering
  • porous materials
  • viral particles


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