Face masks, sometimes known as face coverings or shields, are the most obvious and controversial manifestation of the COVID 19 Pandemic
In some countries notably the UK, Governments are loath to recommend members of the public wear face coverings, other countries insist they are worn in public with substantial fines for non compliance.
I’ve researched the published evidence for and against and feel I have a good understanding of the pros and cons.
On Balance I would ALWAYS support people wearing a mask in Public. Here’s the information I used to make my choice.
- Masks definitely stop you breathing in coronavirus and reduce the risk of being infected with a potentially fatal virus. Tests show between 80% and 95% of virus carrying droplets are stopped by wearing a mask or a shield
- Wearing a mask or shield reduces the amount of virus in the air and on hard surfaces so WILL reduce the number of infections. It is also a sign of respect showing you are taking steps to protect your fellow citizens.
- The more viral load that invades your body, the worse the severity of the illness and harder it is for the immune system to fend off. Anything (like a mask or shield) that lessens the amount of viral load is a GOOD THING.
- Masks give people a false sense of security making them less likely to socially distance
- Masks may not be worn correctly and may be taken off to eat or talk
- Masks may not be handled correctly meaning they can spread the virus
- Masks may be used more than once without cleaning (the virus can live on a mask for up to 7 days)
- Masks may not be disposed of correctly causing a biohazard
- Masks may encourage face touching, a known cause of viral transmission
- Masks may cause communications problems and anxiety attacks in many people
- Masks don’t protect the eyes and the virus can be caught through the eyes.
- Surgical masks and N-95 respirators should not be used by the public; they are needed by healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
How is Coronavirus Spread (in order of importance)
- Droplets of phlegm, mucus and saliva exhaled by breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing
- Remnants of droplets picked up from hard surfaces and transfers to the face and eyes
- Air bound (aerosol) particles created by breathing that hang around in the air
You can become infected through your mouth, nose and to a lesser extend eyes.
Coronvirus is spread mainly be droplets exhaled when you breathe, talk, cough or sneeze.
If you don’t cover your mouth these droplets travel for up to 2 meters and will be breathed in by someone facing you if they are not wearing a mask or shield.
Beyond 2 meters the droplets fall to the ground or any other surface where they can be picked up by other people touching that surface,they may then transfer them to their face, mouth, eyes and nose and become infected.
This is why in a face to face setting (the most dangerous) it’s recommended you stay 6 feet or 2 meters apart when not wearing a face covering. Being alongside or behind someone is far safer.
It has also been found that some coronavirus exists in aerosol form (microscopic droplets). These particles are less than 5 μm in size and hang in the air for up to 2 hours after the infected person has exhaled them and over a much larger area than the 2 meter social distancing zone.
Aerosol infection is mainly a problem in crowded poorly ventilated areas. Because of the small particle size masks offer less protection but on the positive side the amount of coronavirus you are likely to inhale is very small.
Being exposed to coronavirus doesn’t mean you will get Covid 19, but what is certain is that the More of the virus you are exposed to the more severe your symptoms are likely to be.
Masks have been found to stop anywhere between 80% and 95% of droplets reaching the wearer.
Coronavirus can last for 7 days on a mask or shield
A recent (April 2) study in The Lancet reported that coronavirus lasted longest — up to seven days — on stainless steel, plastic, and surgical (Face) masks
This is why the most popular blue hygiene masks (that can’t be cleaned) must be disposed of safely after each use. This makes them a very expensive, inconvenient and environmentally Unfriendly option.
Only use disposable masks once then treat them as Hazardous waste
Here’s how you need to get rid of your disposable masks after each use:
Used masks should be kept in a paper bag for a minimum of 72 hours prior to their disposal as general waste. It’s also advised to cut the masks prior to disposal to prevent their reuse.
Alternatively they should be disinfected using ordinary bleach solution (five per cent) or sodium hypochlorite solution (one per cent) and then disposed of either by burning or deep burial.
Breathing through your nose may protect you
Breathing in through your nose rather than your mouth delivers nitrous oxide directly into your lungs, where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of the coronavirus.
Read the full post: The Science behind Breathing through your nose to protect against Coronavirus (Covid 19)