DuBois native working with SRU security administration college students doing facial masks exams Life-style

SLIPPERY ROCK – The use of face masks may lead to points of contention, or at least confusion, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are They Really Effective? Are Surgical Masks Better Than Cloth Masks? Are they protecting you or preventing you from spreading the virus? Although several studies were being conducted across the country, a group of students from Slippery Rock University decided to investigate this themselves by putting masks to the test as part of a safety management research project.

“We looked at some of the breathing procedures for COVID to find out which masks are most effective and tested them for comfort at the same time,” said Alina Schlichtkrull, senior safety management major from Wexford. “We applied tested masks and measured the particles in the air to see how well various surgical masks, homemade cloth masks and N95 respirators protected us from particles. We have found the N95 masks to be the best at protecting us and the people around us. “

N95 respirators are masks that meet the N95 classification of air filtration from the U.S. National Institute for Safety and Health at Work. This means that they filter at least 95 percent of the particles in the air.

Schlichtkrull is President of the Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals at SRU. As part of the student organization’s offer to become an ASSP Outstanding Student Section Award winner and receive a $ 5,000 scholarship, they needed a research project. Kaycee Vanchure, a senior DuBois safety management major and treasurer of the ASSP chapter, suggested testing masks because they were widely used during the pandemic.

“This was a perfect fit for the ongoing pandemic and to better educate people about what to wear,” Schlichtkrull said. “I’m happy with the outcome of the project, given our limitations and the fact that everyone is not on campus together. We could still meet in small groups to do the fit tests under the supervision of our professors, and we were even able to present the research results at a virtual conference. “

Five students presented the research at the ASSP Western Pennsylvania Chapter Professional Development Conference, attended by virtually 50 security industry professionals and students from the area. Speakers included Schlichtkrull and other ASSP members and safety management majors Leah Bracken, a junior from Ebensburg; Evan Hilk, a junior from Irwin; Brad Kane, a junior from Ellwood City; and Sam Miloser, a sophomore from New Castle. Alyssa Royer, a senior citizen from Pittsburgh, also participated in the study but was not a moderator.

The fit-test process consisted of each researcher selecting a mask and testing it with a PortaCount, a type of ambient particle counting device used to quantitatively assess the leakage of face seals commonly used by occupational hygiene professionals.

“We lit a candle to act as particles in the air. So we were sure that our test would be an accurate representation of our masks that protect us from particles in the air,” said Schlichtkrull. “The PortaCount device then asked the student to perform a series of actions, such as: B. deep breathing, stooping, and turning to and fro to test the seal of the mask. The PortaCount calculated the adjustment factor of each mask and the N95 proved to be the most effective. “

The research will be part of the ASSP SRU Chapter’s application for the ASSP Outstanding Student Section Award, which will be announced later this summer.

Further information on the SRU’s safety management program can be found on the department’s website.

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