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randxalthor t1_ithovxv wrote

Medical workers at our hospital during the pandemic were placed under a hood with their N95 and then aerosolized aspartame was put in. If you could taste it, you need to fix your mask fit.

Anything that makes fitting simpler, cheaper, and easier would be a welcome substitute.

What's strange to me is the use of surgical masks for evaluation of this tech. Surgical masks do not seal by their very nature. This would be far more useful for N95s and other respirators.


PandaDad22 t1_ithwn87 wrote

The article says

>Currently, there are no simple ways to measure the fit of a mask,

When really the aspartame test works really well.


Ace_Dystopia t1_iti340g wrote

While aspartame and bitrex can be used for fit testing, you’ll still need a nebulizer and a hood to test the fit.

If there were masks or even N95s that could tell you the fit upon putting it on, I’d consider that a simpler solution.


PandaDad22 t1_itibhbv wrote

I’ve done it many times. The test is simple and tests exactly what needs to be. Its cheap and easy.

MIT is not solving a problem here.


Ace_Dystopia t1_iticzgv wrote

I live in Canada and the costs for a mask fitting test kit or even a homemade one can be more than $100. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but all the nebulizers I see sold are over $50+, which I wouldn’t consider cheap.

The 3M mask fitting test kit is a couple hundreds of dollars.


E_Snap t1_itk6het wrote

Okay so let’s build costly circuitry into disposable masks then? Oh, and don’t forget to make sure your mask has batteries, otherwise it won’t be able to tell you whether it fits or not.


RebelWithoutAClue t1_itk8brk wrote

Bitrex is is disgusting stuff. A trace amount of it on your face can easily get to your mouth when you have lunch.

Aspartame is a pretty good option but it's detection limit will be higher in that we'd need to have more leaking in to detect it.


derpPhysics OP t1_itigtmr wrote

I suggest people actually read the paper itself (I linked it earlier). The goal of the work goes well beyond just finding an alternative mask-fit testing method. It seeks to link mask fit with user behavior and environmental conditions - to find out why/when people use masks incorrectly and give them a real time, ambulatory feedback. That's not possible using currently existing methods.


PandaDad22 t1_itj0ahv wrote

It all sounds dumb. /r/science should ban anything with “MIT” in the title. It’s alway click bait.


randxalthor t1_itirf3m wrote

If you want simple, you can do the glasses check. If you huff and your glasses don't fog up (presuming they're not anti-fog coated), it's an alright seal.

For professionals, that's not good enough, and the aspartame test is expensive and time-consuming, as well as not a continuous evaluation.


HoobieHoo t1_itjo3r2 wrote

Glasses fogging isn’t reliable as even N95 masks allow water vapour to pass. With the huff test, a well sealed mask will collapse and expand slightly as you inhale and exhale, respectively. If it doesn’t do that, then it isn’t sealed properly.

Regular surgical masks aren’t designed to fit with a seal like N95s are.


randxalthor t1_itkbtj4 wrote

You seem to have ignored my comment about how surgical masks aren't designed to seal.

Also, the fog test for N95s was the quick and dirty solution. It does, in fact, work, though it's not a good substitute for the aspartame test, as I pointed out. If your nose bridge fits properly and your straps are properly placed over your head, breathing out will not create enough positive pressure to push the mask away from your skin. The nose bridge is also the most critical part of the mask for fit because of the tight curvature, which is why it's a decent rule of thumb.

The water vapor you breathe out with a good seal will thus be forced to travel more evenly through the mask and not concentrate on your glasses. Many medical professionals wear glasses with N95s without worrying about fogging precisely because their masks fit well around the nose.

And in case you're wondering why I know all this, it's because I worked before and during the pandemic in bioweapons defense designing vapor and aerosol filters, and my SO worked as one of the aforementioned medical professionals treating COVID-positive patients.


Lives_on_mars t1_itoeay0 wrote

I didn’t know aspartame could be used (Splenda). I thought it was only saccharine (sweet n low). As a sub for Bitrex that is.


PandaDad22 t1_itofq2a wrote

I don’t remember. One or the other.


Lives_on_mars t1_itorp3q wrote

I was going to buy some Bitrex anyway. I taste “sweetness” too easily in my mouth…after one or two tests it’s hard for me to tell, taste wise, if I’m tasting sweet or not. It’s a bummer the test can’t really be done with odors. Barring a nuisance-filtering mask, anyway.


[deleted] t1_ith3ewl wrote

That's really goddamn cool! All kinds of ways for this to be useful in healthcare.


declawedboys t1_ithibpj wrote

Sort of surprising that a version of this didn't exist. You can get N95 fittings, since there are different sizes of N95 available, and though it's a bit if a process it's not hard to see how a less rigorous version could be developed to test the fit for other masks where there's not that tight seal. The process involves wearing an N95 that has a small valve to accomodate a rubber hose, and they have you do different things to assess the fit (taking deep breaths, moving your head and neck around to see if movement effects the seal, reading sentences aloud).


ButtersTheSulcata t1_ithwkgh wrote

Yes but when there’s only one size I genuinely don’t see the point, I already have a difficult enough time finding Large gloves in the hospital


zorbathegrate t1_ithfkv3 wrote

The only think it says is “you’re wearing this wrong”


Napoleptic t1_iths18q wrote

I truly hope this can be used to figure out a solution to glasses fog. I'm tired of taping my mask to my face.


spyczech t1_itjlciu wrote

"Using this sensor, the researchers analyzed the fit of surgical masks on male and female subjects, and found that overall, the masks fit women’s faces much less closely than they fit men’s faces. "

This was a very interesting takeaway for me, and seems a subtle example of how industrial design is often designed for men's forms in a subtle way. As there are different schemas or types of masks it would be curious as a follow up to know which kinds better fit feminine features overall


acclaimA9 t1_itjzhkz wrote

My glasses fog level already figured this one out.


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okiebill1972 t1_ithewdl wrote

Instant Fit Testing, sign me up...


PandaDad22 t1_ithwduk wrote

I'm pretty sure that it doesn't work that well


DrSOGU t1_ithza1n wrote

After they found a cure for cancer, dementia, Ebola, Parkinsons and aging in general, solved world hunger, climate change, cheap renewable energy, world peace and equal opportunity, they couldn't come up with a new cause that would be worthy as a top priority to throw their resources at, so they decided they could just do the self-adapting mask thing now.


druppel_ t1_iti4c4c wrote

I mean I can see/feel the fit of my masks.and I know most masks don't fit well because my head is small.

But there's not a lot of different size (or clearly sized) masks so can't do much about it.


Silk__Road t1_itilaaj wrote

So covids coming back then?


SkippySkep t1_itl5w1p wrote

That the sensor is made for surgical masks shows this project is on the wrong track. They aren't made to fit tightly and aren't respiratory protection.

The technology is interesting but being applied poorly.


Earptastic t1_iti1tsc wrote

Hold on. Let me take my mask down while I take a baby sip of water for 45 seconds.


slowdowndowndown t1_ith1ikg wrote

Can it gauge the fit of my boxers so that when I fart it doesn’t stink?


mattjouff t1_ithd8s2 wrote

Frankly a better use of funds if you ask me


anthony_af t1_ith4kn4 wrote

ever since covid started i used 2 masks, one for my face and one for me bum


Dalmahr t1_ithexbl wrote

I dont think this is as funny as you think it is. Also if you're an anti masker, health professionals, people that work around heavy dust or fumes still need to use masks.


anthony_af t1_ithf41w wrote

i’m funniest person ever. what are you talking about? maybe you have covid??


rdyoung t1_ithdrsc wrote

So you double masked?


anthony_af t1_ithe8xr wrote

if i learned anything from condoms it’s that doubling up is like 200% no babies, same concept shall apply here


rdyoung t1_ithh6k4 wrote



anthony_af t1_ithhdpa wrote

for the record i was saying that your parents should’ve double condomed up


rdyoung t1_ithrej7 wrote

In which case I still would have been born and I would have more siblings than I do.

You're not very good at this. You need to work on your insult game.