Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Civil Engineering (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. M. Myung Jeong


The present study aims to explore the effect of adding shredded waste Covid-19 masks to silty-clay soil on the soil’s compaction characteristics for beneficial use in embankment, the subgrade of roadways, or backfill. This was accomplished by using two different types of masks: blue surgical masks and KN95 masks. Both mask types were hand shredded into half-inch sections using safety-scissors. The maximum dry density (MDD) and optimum moisture content (OMC) are the two most important compaction characteristics, and they were determined by the Standard Proctor Compaction Test (ASTM D698 / AASHTO T99). The change of both the MDD and OMC were monitored to assess the effect of added mask shred at different doses. Through testing, the mask added soil proved to meet the GDOT requirements of soil for embankment, subgrade, and backfill, offering insight into the potential future utilization of waste COVID-19 masks within soil. After the Covid-19 pandemic, billions of waste face masks were left to sit in landfills. This study will help provide a dynamic new way to recycle these waste masks and ultimately contribute to more sustainable roadway construction.