A Modern Mask for a Modern Plague: Functional Fashion Against COVID-19
Amelia Liuzzi, ANT418: Seminar in Biological Anthropology
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor Julie Wieczkowski, Anthropology
This talk discusses the methodology and practicality behind designing a modern plague doctor mask that protects its user against COVID-19. For this project I wanted to create something that was as much a piece of wearable art (and social commentary) as it was a functional item. In order to understand what design elements are important in a functional mask, I looked at studies on the efficiency of personal protective equipment (PPE) in minimizing the spread of disease. First, by using a mask with full-face coverage, accidental or unconscious touch-contact risk is eliminated. This is especially important because, on average, people touch their faces 20 times an hour “almost half the time the touch involves the eyes, nose, or mouth. Face coverage also protects against errant droplets and aerosols in tight quarters” up to 96%. Another factor to consider is fabric selection, which is especially important due to the small size of SARS-CoV-2. In this case, I chose my fabrics based on a study that showed that layered cotton (mechanical filtration) and chiffon (electrostatic filtration) filtered particles smaller than 300nm with 97% efficiency (compared to the N95's 85%). In regard to the aesthetics of the mask, I went with the iconic plague doctor look modeled on an etching of the plague doctor of Marseilles c. 1721.
Liuzzi, Amelia, "A Modern Mask for a Modern Plague: Functional Fashion Against COVID-19" (2021). Psychology and Social Sciences. 11.