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Tuesday, November 24 2020

Masking the truth?

There is probably no subject that will incite a wellspring of emotional reaction during this pandemic than the one surrounding the importance of wearing a mask.  Of course, they work and if more people wore them, we would be done with this pandemic by now…right?  Before we rush to agree with what seems to be obvious, let us look at some interesting scientific facts


The SARS CoV 2 virus is .07 microns in size, but surgical masks and cotton masks allow the passage of material in size anywhere from 15 to 50 microns, respectively.  Therefore, the space between a surgical mask’s fibers is 150 times bigger than a SARS CoV 2 virus and about 450 times bigger in a cotton mask.  To further illustrate the size of a CoV 2 virus, you could line up 1000 SARS CoV 2 viruses along the width of a human hair.


Then there is the blockage of water droplets or aerosols.  Aerosols range in size from .7 microns to 10 microns.  Therefore, while most water droplets (10-15 microns) may be blocked initially from the front of the mask, water droplets and aerosols may easily pass through the sides of cotton masks into the ambient air. 


surgical mask’s fibers fare a little better but the opening in the fibers is still 50 times bigger than the virus and 1.5 to 50 times bigger than water droplets.  In both cases, this is akin to using a chain-link fence to stop a gnat, a fly, or a golf ball from coming into your backyard.  N95 masks, are much more effective and can block 95% of particles as small as .3 microns. There is also an N99 mask which block 99% of all particles .3 microns or larger.  Both the N95 and N99 masks are really meant for health care workers who may be exposed to aerosol from patients with Covid-19 or other viruses.  Anyone who is serious about avoiding SARS CoV 2 would want to wear an N95 or N99 mask (it is really a low-level respirator) that is properly fitted for them.  However, be aware N95 masks with exhalation valves protect the wearer but not someone near them.  Both the N95 and N99 mask need special attention in cleaning the water barrier so it does not become compromised.  Surgical masks should only be worn for 3-6 hours and then disposed of and cotton masks should be washed after each use.  Some cloth masks are better than others with two or three layers and have a water barrier like a surgical mask.  A simple test would be to hold up a cloth mask to the sun and if you could still see the sun or if you blow through the cotton mask and feel the air, then the mask is not that effective.


Face shields only protect from aerosol splatter and are only slightly more effective than wearing glasses to protect viruses from entering the mucous membranes of eyes.  You would still be breathing in air that is circulating all around you. 


Gaiters/bandanas according to one study were worse than not wearing a mask at all because it broke up bigger particles into smaller particles that would hang out in the air longer and more likely to be breathed in by other people. 

This video by a doctor vaping through different masks shows how inefficient masks are at stopping aerosols which are the same size as SARS CoV 2 virus or bigger. 


OSHA trained experts

Perhaps there are no better experts in masks then those trained at OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration).  They routinely go into hospitals to train doctors about the proper use of masks and P.P.E. (personal protective equipment).  Tammy Clark (Industrial Hygienist) and Kristen Meghan (occupational & environmental toxicologist) are two former OSHA trained environmental health and safety specialists that have come forward to talk about how the present policies requiring masks in public may cause health risks for some people.  Here is what they say.


To begin, normal ambient air is measured to have 21% oxygen and about 400 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide.  When oxygen drops to 17-18% or carbon dioxide levels increase to 1000-2000 ppm’s, complaints of drowsiness occur.  At levels above 2000 ppm headaches, sleepiness, increased heart rate, and nausea occur.  Levels above 5000 ppm is highly abnormal, and toxicity and oxygen deprivation could occur.  The link below is a video of Del Bigtree host of The Highwire testing various masks and their effect on carbon dioxide levels under the mask of his ten-year-old son.  Very quickly, carbon dioxide levels rose to a level of over 8,000-10,000 ppm, a potentially dangerous level for anyone.  The part with the carbon dioxide testing begins at the 8:55 mark.  This is another video showing how oxygen levels decreased in children within several seconds of wearing a mask.  


According to Clark and Meghan, Bigtree’s experiment was done within the parameters that meet OSHA guidelines. They said pulse oximeter testing of blood gases which several doctors have demonstrated for mask safety is not as accurate to evaluate the potential negative effects of masks because of the delayed reaction time to change blood gases. 


NIOSH, The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (a sister agency to OSHA), says that masks can decrease oxygen levels by 20%.  Because of this, any work situation that requires prolonged use of mask wearing must have frequent work and rest cycles for worker safety.  Clark said that masks force the wearer to forcibly increase the inspiration and expiration phases of respiration and for those who are weaker, it puts added demand on the cardiopulmonary system and could result in an asthma attack or heart attack in someone who is susceptible.  NIOSH does not give certification for surgical masks and certainly not for cloth masks, because practically speaking they simply do not protect against viruses. 


The World Health Organization, in its June 5, 2020 guidance on face mask use, noted that there is no direct evidence that universal masking of healthy people is an effective intervention against respiratory viral infections including Covid-19.  However, the W.H.O. later encouraged universal cloth mask used for “cultural expression” and “to offer a source of income for those able to manufacture masks within their communities”.   


Both sides of the scientific debate

The attachment below is a review of the studies done with masks and without masks during surgery.



Charts: mask-wearing works 


Charts: mask-wearing does not work 


Here is a link to a compilation of studies showing that masks were not effective along with a debate between Denis Rancourt PhD, (against) and Dr. David Kyle Johnson, (for).  It is a long watch, a little over 90 minutes and although it gets a little unruly from one debater, Dr. Johnson, it was entertaining and informative.


Here is a paper that reviewed several studies and had promising conclusions in wearing a mask.   


Final Thoughts

The purpose of this newsletter is raising awareness to the limitations and side effects of wearing most masks.  I do feel the media and our politicians overly inflate the usefulness of cotton masks, and a healthy debate about mask type is worthwhile.  Blind acceptance of any governmental edict could be ill-advised to some.  Perhaps we need to reevaluate the minimum age of children wearing a mask or restrict driving while wearing a mask, or exercising so that at the very least we first do no harm to ourselves while we try to protect others.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveal that 85% of Covid-19 patients had “always” or “often” worn a cloth mask or face-covering in the 14 days preceding their illness. This confirms Gallup poll data that mask compliance is high in the U.S.  Potentially N95 masks with exhalation valves for the general population could have made a difference while decreasing the side effects of wearing a mask.  If the government was serious about slowing infections, perhaps that is where the emergency attention and money should have been directed for large scale production.


“Truth wears no mask, bows at no human shrine, seeks neither place nor applause. She only asks a hearing.”   Carl A. Wickland


Posted by: Dr. Goldstein AT 01:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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