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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Prof. Claire Horwell

Smart, N.R., Horwell, C.J., Smart, T.S. & Galea, K.S (2020). Assessment of the Wearability of Facemasks against Air Pollution in Primary School-Aged Children in London. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(11): 3935.

Author(s) from Durham


Air pollution is a major health problem and children are particularly vulnerable to the
adverse effects. Facemasks are one form of protection but, to be effective, they need to filter out
airborne pollutants, fit the face well and be wearable. In this pilot study, we assess 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.