BOCA RATON, FLA. (WSVN) - Researchers at a South Florida university are studying the science when it comes to how effective different types of masks really are in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Inside a lab at Florida Atlantic University, two engineering professors are measuring how coronavirus can spread through the power of a cough.

They fill a mannequin’s mouth with a mix of glycerin and water, use a pump to force it to cough, then wait and see how far the droplets travel.

The droplets fill the air made visible with a green laser light.

“It’s already reaching roughly nine feet now. it’s still moving farther, slowly,” said FAU Professor Sid Verma.

That’s already three feet beyond the social distancing guidelines.

“It is getting closer to 12 feet now,” said Verma.

Over and over again, the simulated droplets blew past the six foot mark, often doubling that distance.

In fact, while officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is less likely, infections have been transmitted to people who were more than six feet away.

It’s all part of why the CDC still urge people to keep their distance from others while traveling and wear a high-quality mask.

Some experts said cloth masks and anything that’s just a single layer offer little protection.

A single layer gaiter was tested.

“This gaiter is a bit surprising, because it seems to let everything through without any stoppage,” said FAU Professor Manhar Dhanak.

Next up, a single layer bandanna made of 100% cotton.

“What you see there is this quilted cotton one-layer mask performs a little better than the gaiter. You still get some leakage coming through,” said Dhanak.

A double layer mask, made of quilting cotton, faired better then the gaiter and the bandanna.

“It doesn’t go very far, probably about two to three inches from the face, so significantly better than the other masks,” said Dhanak.

And blue surgical masks did well, but there’s room for improvement.

When the mannequin “coughed,” quite a bit still leaked out the top.

Experts suggest grabbing a KN95 or N95 mask, if available, before hitting the road and keeping one’s distance from fellow passengers when possible.

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