While previous research has shown that certain face masks can filter respiratory droplets, those filtering abilities become less effective when coughing is repetitive.
More specifically, after ten cough cycles, the mask efficiency can drop by about 8%, the study says. The coughs tested in this experiment were considered mild. “We should expect a more significant efficiency reduction for severe coughing events, as well as when wearing a mask for a longer period,” the study writes.
That said, masks still reduce the distance in which airborne droplets are able to travel. Without a mask, they traveled almost one meter, but that number was cut in half when masks were worn. It also limited the amount of droplets being spread.