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Silk Masks Offers More Protection than Cotton or Synthetics for COVID-19 Prevention

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With personal protective equipment still in short supply, researchers at the University of Cincinnati examined what common household fabrics might work best as a face covering.

UC postdoctoral researcher Adam Parlin holds up a silk face mask. A UC study found that silk masks might work better at repelling COVID-19 than cotton or synthetic masks. 

Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand
Next to a single-use N95 respirator or surgical mask, UC found the best alternative could be made by a hungry little caterpillar. Silk face masks are comfortable, breathable and repel moisture, which is a desirable trait in fighting an airborne virus.

Perhaps best of all, silk contains natural antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties that could help ward off the virus, said Patrick Guerra, assistant professor of biology in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Studies have shown that copper, in particular, can kill bacteria and viruses on contact. And that’s where the little caterpillars have their own superpower, Guerra said.

“Copper is the big craze now. Silk has copper in it. Domesticated silk moths eat mulberry leaves. They incorporate copper from their diet into the silk,” Guerra said.

The project demonstrates UC’s commitment to making an impact in the community as described in UC’s strategic direction called Next Lives Here.

UC biologist Patrick Guerra has helped to unravel the mysteries of monarch butterfly migration. His knowledge of entomology inspired his research into silk masks.

 Photo/Lisa Ventre/UC Creative + Brand

Many health care providers are wearing a surgical mask in combination with an N95 respirator. The outer covering helps prolong the life of the N95 respirator by keeping it clean. Guerra, whose wife, Evelyn, is a medical doctor, said silk might be an especially good choice for this outer cover as they perform similarly to surgical masks that are in short supply.

“Cotton traps moisture like a sponge. But silk is breathable. It’s thinner than cotton and dries really fast,” Guerra said.

With COVID-19 surging in parts of the United States, face masks have become a focal point of prevention.

In the UC biology lab, researchers tested cotton and polyester fabric along with multiple types of silk to see how effective a barrier each is for repelling water, representing respiratory droplets containing the virus. They found that silk worked far better as a moisture barrier than either polyester or cotton, both of which absorb water droplets quickly.

UC’s study concluded that silk performs similarly to surgical masks when used in conjunction with respirators but has the added advantages of being washable and repelling water, which would translate to helping to keep a person safer from the airborne virus.

“The ongoing hypothesis is that coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets,” Guerra said. “If you wore layers of silk, it would prevent the droplets from penetrating and from being absorbed. Recent work by other researchers also found that increasing layers of silk improves filtration efficiency. This means that silk material can repel and filter droplets. And this function improves with the number of layers.”

The study was published this month in the journal Plos One.

Postdoctoral researcher Adam Parlin holds up a styrofoam head draped with a silk mask. UC biologists examined how well face masks made from different materials repelled water or aerosolized droplets. Silk impeded the penetration and absorption of liquid and aerosolized droplets better than cotton or synthetic fabrics. 

Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

Because of the timeliness of their work during the global pandemic, UC researchers posted their results early to medRxiv, a preprint server for health sciences.

“We’re trying to address this critical problem. Health care workers still don’t have enough personal protective equipment, namely N95 respirators or basic surgical masks,” Guerra said.

Previously, Guerra studied the neurobiology behind the incredible multigenerational migration of monarch butterflies across North America. As an entomologist, he’s studied everything from giant lobster katydids in South America to Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

Now UC students raise silk moths (Bombyx mori) in Guerra’s biology lab.

UC postdoctoral researcher Adam Parlin wrote an undergraduate instruction manual for care and feeding of the moths he titled, “How to Train Your Bombyx,” a riff on the DreamWorks’ animated dragon movies. The cover features a picture of the adult moth. With its big head, enormous eyes and fanned wings, the silk moth indeed resembles a night fury from the films.

“These little guys are entertaining,” he said.

A time-lapse video shows a silkworm building a cocoon in 72 hours.

 Video/Adam Parlin

As part of his research, Parlin studied how the caterpillars make their protective silk cocoons. When they reach a point in their life cycle, the caterpillars become manic workaholics. For 72 straight hours they spin and spin their silk to create a luxurious, breathable fortress where they can pupate safely into a fuzzy white moth.
UC found that silk repelled moisture better than other common fabrics used in face masks. 

Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

Researchers created cardboard arenas with a wooden dowel in the center upon which the caterpillars can spin their silk cocoons. The caterpillars work methodically and nonstop, initially spinning silk from the top of the dowel at an angle to the cardboard like a tent. Once the tent is finished, they work in earnest on building their grape-sized cocoon in a corner of it.

“If the cocoon gets damaged, they just build a second layer around it,” Parlin said.

The moisture-trapping cocoon provides an ideal microclimate to keep the caterpillars happy despite any sudden changes in the weather.

“The silk cocoons prevent moisture from getting in and keeps the animal from desiccation or drying out,” Guerra said.

UC postdoctoral researcher Adam Parlin is studying butterfly migration in UC assistant professor Patrick Guerra’s biology lab.

 Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

Now Guerra is investigating how long the virus survives on silk and other materials. 

As shortages of personal protective equipment continue to plague health care providers, Guerra said homemade masks will continue to play an important role in keeping people safe from COVID-19.

“Silk has been with us for a while — since the days of the Silk Road,” Guerra said. “It’s not a new fabric, yet now we’re finding all these new uses for it.”


Contacts and sources:
David Olejarz / Michael Miller
University of Cincinnati

Publication: A laboratory-based study examining the properties of silk fabric to evaluate its potential as a protective barrier for personal protective equipment and as a functional material for face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic Adam F. Parlin,Samuel M. Stratton,Theresa M. Culley,Patrick A. Guerra


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Total 18 comments
  • raburgeson

    BS, masks do not work!

    • Zeropointenergy

      Poll: Britains Would “Go To Prison Before Being Injected” great share and masks work!

      • Fake News = The False Prophet

        You reference David Icke and at the same time claim masks work, when all evidence says the opposite?
        Cognitive dissonance or what.

        Any mandatory vaccine is a declaration of war and the response will not be ‘I’ll be going to prison’.
        Good luck to the administrators. They’ll need it.

  • 2QIK4U

    Knowing we’ve all been lied to instead of Going along with this Criminal Agenda is what you should be doing ! :mad: :razz:

  • Follows TheWay

    So, something “works better” than something that never worked in the first place? Oh, okay.

    What’s next, an article on a concrete face diaper that is shown to work better than silk?

    Instead of illegally terrorizing and bullying people to put on face diapers, how about the bullies just put on TWO masks; then, according to their own “data” and fairy tales, they should be nice and happy and “safe.”

    Where does this end? Answer: it doesn’t. The NOW beast system is coming…

    Christians: be sure you are saved and not just think you are. Download and prove this out with your Bible today:

  • PeacePlanet

    To all you fearful facediapered tards and morons reading this, LATEX or rubber is the best mask material.

    Get and wear one today!

    • 2QIK4U

      Be a Condom head today ! Only 6 easy payments :lol:

    • 2QIK4U

      Just use a Plastic bag and do the world a favour XD

  • DON ROBER>to

    [" I can't breath" said the lounge, " I can't work, said the brain". What’s all about? EVIL-BigBusiness. A Billion-Dollar Business and the high luxury Shops are rising out of nothing in Shopcenters, sell millions of designed non-medical made-in-china-home-made-masks out of industrialized Oil-products material.....not realizing all health-risks, short as of course longterm.
    All these companies and shops and owners as home-manufacturers are so evil brainwashed, that they entirely forget what these WhiteTerror ands PsychoTerror is occurring. They never ever will sign any personal unlimited liability and sign a certified document under oath with blue ink and seal, that they take over all Health-Risks and Side-Effects and occurring costs out of wearing that mask.
    Nobody, really nobody can provide any kind of certificated sealed independently proven Certificates, that on the one hand the bacterium is what it is, that wearing the mask prevents from an everyday general danger of infection, be it influenza, be it allergies and other environmental pollution. More and more expert opinions are appearing, which clearly show that the permanent wearing of masks, depending on the air impermeability, causes enormous damage to the entire organism in the long run. Especially, blood-cells and in the brain cells. Especially children need air, no matter in which form of purity, in order to strengthen their autoimmune system from the information contained in it and to develop body resistances, which strengthen the organism's defenses. If they are deliberately prevented from doing so, collapse and failure are inevitable and the business plans of HealthCare Ind. already stand for turnover and profit from this fatal deception by psycho-terror and white terror, 5G impacts, for which there are no rights whatsoever, which are even forbidden under civil defence and martial law such as constitutions and additional constitutions - they do it...

  • Fake News = The False Prophet

    “A UC study found that silk masks might work better”

    Wooden masks ‘might’ work better.

    I hope no-one gets paid for this nonsense.

  • Slimey

    It might be a liddle better but does not PREVENT it.

    What should have been done was GUIDELINES to BOOST your immune system. NOT shut down the economy. Very, very, STEWPID of the bureaucrap who has been working at CDC like for LIFE.

    He is responsible for LYING to Trump and costing the world TRILLIONS in damages. He should have been HANGED the day before already and we get on with our lives. He should not breath an hour more. :twisted:

    • 2QIK4U

      OMG Slimer I thought you would see Agenda 21 – 30 a mile away ;) It’s ” The Mocking” of White’s or Christians, …

      • Slimey

        :lol: :lol: :lol:

  • 2QIK4U

    This Entire Article is False. Doesn’t matter how good silk is when it comes down to the Thread count of whatever your using, If the thread count is higher it means it’s harder to breath through technically working in thier stupid Theory. This is so Moronically stupid Seriously, Parish you have 0 comprehension or you’re Shilling a False Narrative… Take your pick

  • DON ROBER>to

    (II) [“nevertheless, knowing that the educated stupidity and indifference and the consent has been given to give the self-responsibility into foreign hands, called "STATE", which has no interest whatsoever in protecting human life and preventing it from harm. 5G-smartMeter, DEW-KEW-EHF, ELF, HAARP, NEXRAD, CERN, Bio-weather-energy-weapon, blue manipulative entertainment show, framing and blaming, as private commerce to keep the fear and scare business in the profit zone, with products and test machines that have been in pre-production for many years for this EVENT-2-o-1 ID2020 program, according to Agenda21 and Agenda 2030, which they presented in the World-Economy Forum, Bilderberg, Committee 300 in their grand lodges sworn in and their Hightech Pharma, -Oil,-, chemical industry above all their bank system on it pre-programmed gave, which at present after satanic-zionist, socialist-communist private large family plans, which want to make the entire world to digitized Zombis, evenly by the missing part of their products SERVI_SERVI_ANIMAL_THING, the BAR CODE, thus the CoVID19 CHIP, the mark of the animal.”]

  • DON ROBER>to

    (III)…[“Chip plus diabolic vaccine, a multi-trillion private commercial dollar business, waiting for the ROI of the “ 5thWave” and the mask show is a part of it. Hellywood has brought it all to the big screen for decades in countless movies, from horror to Walt Disney and live shows. As a science fiction illusion, THE business project of the 21st century was developed and billions of people fall into the exhibited business traps. Millions of people earn money from this business, thousands participate in the profits, but only a few hundred people in their extended families make the profits from their plans to move to their New World Order, at socialized costs and lives, and they have many millions of lives on the certain, just by the biggest business of all: private commercial big industrial literal business., called TRADE-WAR, sold as peace-keeping measures to save humanity, and nature. The Orwellian Show “ 1984” with “ Contagion “ and “ V of Vanetta” all-in-one. The “ GeoStorm”. Can a devil really be as devilish as they think and act and their business and blue ideology as believed religion and fictional worlds of gods? Take off your masks, take off their masks, that you may recognize that they are not of this world and really do not love anyone of us Human Beings on their claimed Planet as their Playground. "]

  • AJ

    -uck you and your masks!!!!

  • Follows TheWay

    Dr. Rima did a livestream last night on face diapers. Someone in the chat wrote, “I heard silk masks do work.”

    Near the end of the show Dr. Rima addressed questions and comments made during the livestream, and the above comment was specifically addressed by her. Dr. Rima’s reply was PURE GOLD.

    The comment is brought up at the 1:01:10 mark. The following link should start at the proper place:

    NOTE: to get the full effect of the comment/reply one should really watch the entire thing. It is informative and even a bit entertaining.

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