By Kaisa Hansson - Manager of Marketing and Communication at AHHAA Science Centre, Estonia

There are thousands of safety masks, but which one should you choose? And how? Science Centre AHHAA (Tartu, Estonia) teamed up with the University of Tartu to create a new informative exhibition.

Last autumn, the university physicists made a call for people to send the university their masks. 139 different masks from all over Estonia were received - from top-notch surgical masks to DIY fabric masks. The physicists then studied two aspects of the masks: breathability and filtration. Breathability shows how easy it is to breathe through the mask and filtration shows how many virus particles (both smaller and larger) it can withstand.

Turns out that a mask's breathability could be more important than its filtering properties. How come? If your mask filters well, but you can't really breathe through it, you're more likely to take it off altogether. Meanwhile, a mask with a higher breathability score will be worn more often, so in the longer run, it will protect you more (even when the filtering properties are not so great). Wearing a mask will also prove beneficial whilst caring for a sick person. This way it’s possible to reduce the probability of becoming ill yourself.

Visitors can see a more thorough analysis of 10 masks (as picked by the researchers) that are worn by cuddly bears. A cross-section is also given which provides a better look into the mask itself and how they might differ depending on the material. The exhibition gives an overview of all the other examples as well. Maybe your own mask made it to the exhibition as well? Come and check it out until the end of May.