Special issue in honor of Prof. David Y.H. Pui for his “50 Years of Contribution in Aerosol Science and Technology”

Qingfeng Cao This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1, Seong Chan Kim1, Qisheng Ou1, Hoo Young Chung1, Weiqi Chen1, William Durfee1, Susan Arnold2, Marc A. Hillmyer3, Linsey A. Griffin4, David Y.H. Pui This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1 

1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
2 Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
3 Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
4 College of Design, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA

Received: November 7, 2022
Revised: December 26, 2022
Accepted: January 8, 2023

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.220387  

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Cite this article:

Cao, Q., Kim, S.C., Ou, Q., Chung, H.Y., Chen, W., Durfee, W., Arnold, S., Hillmyer, M.A., Griffin, L.A., Pui, D.Y.H. (2023). Filtration Performance and Fiber Shedding Behavior in Common Respirator and Face Mask Materials. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.220387


  • An automatic system for measuring filtration performance of respirators/face masks.
  • An experimental setup for testing direct fiber shedding behavior of materials.
  • The 3M N95 respirator has the best overall filtration performance.
  • No broken fibers were discovered to be shed from the tested materials.
  • Dendrite structures in nanoscale were found from tests for the SHEMA97 face mask.


Wearing respirators and face masks is effective for protecting the public from COVID-19 infection. Thus, there is a need to evaluate the performance of the commonly used respirators and face masks. Two experimental systems were developed to investigate seven different mask materials, which have a fiber size range from 0.1 μm (100 nm) to 20 μm (20,000 nm). One of the systems is a computer-controlled setup for measuring the filtration performance, including size-dependent filtration efficiency and pressure drop, while the other system is for testing the fiber shedding behavior of the materials. The technique of scanning electron microscope (SEM) was applied to observe the dimensions and structures of those materials, which are made of nonwoven-fabrics electret-treated media, cotton woven fabrics, or nanofiber media. The study indicated that the 3M N95 respirator has the best overall filtration performance with over 95% efficiency and low pressure drop of 74.1 Pa. The two commercial cotton face masks have the worst filtration performance in general, with a filtration efficiency of around 25%. No broken fibers from by the seven tested respirator and face mask materials were discovered; however, dendrite structures likely shed by the SHEMA97 face mask with a size comparable to its nanoscale fibers were identified. The reason for this phenomena is presented.

Keywords: Face mask, Filtration efficiency, Breathability, Fiber shedding, Fiber structures

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