Unmasked!

(the following is a post by the lovely and talented Mrs Bookstooge, a paragoness of virtue!)

We currently live in a time where wearing a mask is considered normal. When walking around without a mask, it is common for me to see the other person do one of the following: tighten their mask, shudder, walk further away, or chastisement, all stemming from fear of sickness. Which leads me to ask, is wearing a mask truly helpful?

Many types of masks are available: cloth masks, surgical masks, dust masks, respirators, and finally, HEPA filter masks.

First off, cloth masks can be made at home with a handkerchief or cut cloth and a couple hair bands or elastics. Cloth masks can also be bought at most convenience stores. What do you get for your money? Fashion. That’s right. These are considered fashion masks, and function best as a placebo. There have been no randomized clinical trials or guidance for cloth masks and just because it is perceived as helpful doesn’t mean that it actually does anything besides look pretty.

IMG_20200617_192749635

IMG_20200617_192911137
All Masks from Target come with a paper in the outer carton that looks like this

Well, Mrs. B., you might ask, “What about surgical masks?” Surgical masks are designed to catch large droplets of liquid like sweat, sneezing, and runny noses. It’s basically like wearing a facial tissue. Look at the loose fit between the mask and face. Does this look like something preventing you from breathing in a virus? I don’t think so! All surgical masks were NOT designed to prevent their wearers from inhaling airborne contaminants or viruses. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Government!

cute_surgical_mask
This is a surgical mask.  “As they cut your bones out!” – Thus saith Bookstooge

Do I need to spell out what happens with a dust mask? It’s to stop dust! Dirt in the air! NOT disease. NOT viruses. Dust. The end.

Thus we come to an end of what I have seen people outside: cloth (fashion) masks, surgical (tissue) masks, and dust (dirt) masks.

But wait… there’s more!

Around the turn of the 21st century, I worked for an allergy relief superstore in Southern California for several years and sold HEPA filtration masks and purifiers for the home.

HEPA stands for High-efficiency particulate absorbing and is an efficiency standard for an air filter. Filters meeting the HEPA standard must remove at least 99.95% of particles equal to or greater than 0.3 micrometers in diameter.

HEPA filtration systems WORK. Question: Have you seen a HEPA filtration mask around YOU?

n100mask
True HEPA Mask

Warning: Anything labeled “HEPA-type, HEPA-like, HEPA-style, or 99% HEPA” are NOT HEPA standard. Do not be fooled. They are NOT HEPA filters!

After working with HEPA filters, anything less feels like a real let-down. Most respirators don’t make my cut as something “good”. Do respirators work? Some more, Some less.

respirator

Two final thoughts on filters:

One lady suggested I use money as filters. “They’re paper and this way you can smell money!” She said. I didn’t say anything to her, but please don’t try this at home. Money is filthy. Do you really want the smell of unwashed hands shoved in your nose?

Another lady suggested I use a tea bag as a filter. “It’s paper and you can smell tea!” She said. While not as bad as money, I wouldn’t want a used tea bag for multiple reasons. I didn’t say anything to her, but a clean tea bag is simply like a cloth mask, not effective at stopping you from breathing in contaminants.

My personal feelings about all the masks I see is that it’s better for someone to wear a mask if they are the type to sneeze or cough in your face because it’s better than nothing for preventing saliva from spraying you in the face. HOWEVER, the masks we see in the supermarket are mostly a placebo effort and it would do just as well to sneeze/cough into your own inner elbow as to wear one of the commonly seen masks.

Are you afraid to be unmasked?

 

mrsbookstooge

28 thoughts on “Unmasked!

  1. Right! Great topic to address! At the start of the pandemic, general consensus is that masks make little differentce to disease spread. But now that we’re being lured back out of our homes, they’re now deemed essential. The take-away is that yes, they’re a placebo; wearing a mask makes you no less vulnerable to catching a deadly virus. But they might just save someone else,’s life, so better get a decent one. Not all heroes wear masks, but most healthcare workers do, so best follow their example…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Show me some peer reviewed studies that prove that masks make a difference (hint, you won’t find them, quite the opposite in fact) and then I’ll wear one.

      Like

      1. To me, it’s symptomatic of revised rules as lockdown eases; the reasons we were kept at home seem to be changing, and the timing of that change seems rather too convenient. If wearing masks encourages people to accept packed trains and subways again, then we’ll have problems for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Over here people don’t wear masks. You only have to wear them when using public transport, otherwise we are actually advised not to use them as they give a false impression of safety and will make people ignore other precautions such as keeping distance. It is also made very clear that you don’t wear them for your own safety, but to slow contaminating others if you do have the virus but don’t show symptoms yet.
    Although the government says you can make your own masks, you cant just use a scarf or handkerchief. My dad works as a dentist so he got the Husband and me some masks in case we want to use the train.

    It is very interesting to see how countries react differently to the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, what you describe is what gets me going. Everybody responding differently with absolutely no real, peer reviewed science to back anything up. Every government is just kind of doing whatever it thinks will make people feel better. Sigh.

      And I hear you about the false sense of security 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not about the mask filtering out the virus, as the virus isn’t airborne. And it’s not that the masks will necessarily save you if someone else sneezes in your face, it’s more that if YOU’RE wearing a mask and THEY’RE wearing a mask, then whichever one of you sneezes won’t matter. Do you know how fast and far a sneeze or cough can travel? And if you just hurriedly cover your face it won’t help that much. That’s all well and good if you have a cold or something, but a deadly virus? Bit different. Have you seen the urine-covid analogy for masks? It’s pretty much like that. The point isn’t that if you wear a mask you won’t get COVID, it’s that if everyone wears a mask, it will help prevent the spread of disease.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Like I said to Tenssecondsfromnow (who by the way runs a great movie blog if you need someone new to follow) you show me some peer reviewed studies that prove masks are effective and then we can talk. For every Doctor X that says masks are effective, there is a Doctor Y that says they aren’t. This is why peer review is so important. There is a whole process that has to be gone through and the results vetted by many others in the same field.

      This results in the confusion we have now, with everybody around the world saying/claiming something different…

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Absolutely not. I don’t have to prove the negative. The onus for a change in behavior can’t be an absence of evidence. If behavior needs to change, it has to be proved to me that it will actually accomplish something. Because otherwise you are at the whim of every fake scientist who wants to get their name in the news for 30 seconds with a news soundbite. (or is that soundbyte?)

          It scares me that the prevailing attitude is “Do what we say with no real evidence, just because”. From the lying sacks of excrement at the WHO who lied their backsides off to cover up the Chinese mishandling to the absolute trainwreck of world response, nothing but verifiable, certified, re-tested data is something I’m going to hold.

          Not trying to sound “attacky” here. I’m definitely NOT trying to personally attack you with anything I said here. I just feel very strongly on this issue and like I said, it is very concerning to me just how easily people are doing things without thinking for themselves or even trying to find any evidence one way or another. The whole “sheople” thing has never been more real to me.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Okay, so we can just disagree on this. I’m not finding you attacky, more… frustrating. But we’re never going to agree and there’s nothing I can possibly say to change your mind. Just… if you happen to get COVID, do you think you could stay at home or quarantine from other people?

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Great topic! I have heard nees, doctors wearing full protective gear also got infected. That itself says a lot. I guess maintaining distance is enough so you can go wearing mask but it’s compulsory here so I don’t mind wearing it. Makes me not to sneeze in public as too much dust makes me sneeze. Anyway, I’m not going out because of my daughter so no worries for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. If drs in full gear can get it, well….

      And I know how you feel about sneezing. Every time I cough out in public a little voice in my head wonders if others around me are going to think I’m a carrier 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great to meet you, Mrs. B.! I have long wanted to shake your hand. You must be a saint.

    When I lived in Borneo, we had “smoky season” when the dry peat bogs would catch on fire and smolder for weeks. The smoke was so thick it affected visibility and could even be seen indoors. You could get smoker’s lungs in one season.

    A friend of mine researched masks that were designed to filter out smoke particles and found, unsurprisingly, that the better the mask filtered the smoke, the harder it was to breathe while wearing one.

    I don’t mind wearing my little placebo cloth mask if it reassures the people around me. After all, I picked out the pretty fabric and everything! And the official data keeps changing. It made a lot of sense to wear a mask back when we thought asymptomatic carriers were big spreaders of the disease. Now the latest thing I’ve heard is that maybe they aren’t, but wait 5 minutes for another update.

    I’ve noticed that whether I wear or don’t wear a mask, I seem to get dirty looks from people who are doing whatever I’m not. But it’s hard to tell. Maybe this is social anxiety. Maybe they think I am the one giving the dirty looks. The fact is, most people are just trying to do their best with contradictory information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, whatever you do, somebody is going to disapprove and have the bad manners to be a jerk about it. Even with my strong opinions on this subject (and Mrs B is much softer in this regards than me *surprise*), I have made sure that I never make anyone feel uncomfortable for their choice of wearing or not wearing a mask. Thankfully, nobody has hassled me, but Mrs B has been, so I know it happens 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hiii!!! *virtually shakes hand*

      I grew up in Southern California and had to evacuate due to wildfires at least twice. My favorite air purification system that works really well for smoke is the Austin Air with a carbon filter. I let the Austin Air off-gas in a sterile environment elsewhere for a month and then bring it home to make the house a smoke-free environment. Great investment!

      Yes, I hate wearing the masks that work well for that very reason! You’re right, it IS harder to breathe with a good filtration mask!
      I agree about wearing the mask to make others feel better, especially since work give me disposable surgical ones and a cloth one for free. However, it’s very difficult to work in the heat with a mask because I sweat right through them. I go through multiple disposable masks in one shift. I’m definitely looking forward to others feeling better without a mask.

      Something that made me laugh is the response I got when I asked one co-worker what she would do, after masks are not required, with all her pretty cloth masks with puppies and flowers and such, thinking she would make a quilt, and was told she would host a bonfire in her backyard and burn them all!

      Hopefully you are staying cool and continuing to have fun with pretty masks!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oooh you poor thing! Yes, masks are super miserable in the heat! Good on you for putting up with all of this.

        Luckily for me, here in the high-altitude Northwest it is still very cool outside and I don’t have to work shifts in them, just wear them when in a store. Very minor, except for the social awkwardness which is always lurking but is now guaranteed.

        I can’t say I relate to that bonfire thing. I mean, it could be satisfying, but destroying a mask feels like getting rid of all your apocalypse supplies … sure thing, as soon as it is gone, you will need it again!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hm. I remember back when masks were not yet required by the government this year. Ah, yes, back when I got stopped and lectured by random strangers. :-/

          Yesterday I went outside and bought a milkshake and was sipping it with a straw from underneath the mask. Oh boy, did I get the usual states and tightening of masks until the milkshake was gone!

          I just want to cool off! I’m just waaay uncool, I guess?

          I do think this will be brought up again with a vengeance after summer and before November 3. ;-/

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Wow, people are a lot more uptight about it in your state than mine! Here, masks are “recommended” but not required, and most people don’t wear them except inside stores. Of course, we got a big sky out here and we all like to keep 6′ away from each other in the first place.

            I do understand the logic behind masks but I also get this vibe of “what can we get them to do next?”. The Mongols, when they invaded, made the Hans wear their hair in queues. Maybe next it will be something like we all have to walk on our hands if we want to be good citizens.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. May I ask Mrs Stooge to post more often please??? She really seems to know her stuff?? Complements and encouragement should be gracing your comments I hope for a long time to come.

    Regarding Corona from other countries, I advise you to not look up the shitshow it will be turning into in SA…. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She has an open invitation here, but she’s just not into blogging now. But whenever the urge strikes her, I try to get her words here 😀

      Yeah, dealing with America is bad enough without looking around at other countries 😦

      Like

        1. Doing ok, but glad this week is over! Got in almost 47 hrs, so I’m totally ready for the weekend 😀

          Of course, our bluray player just died, so it looks like I’ll be doing a lot more reading this weekend than I initially thought…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Working tomorrow and then Ill be off for three days as well. Sorry about Ray, enjoy the reading though. i am faaar behind on my reading plan I had thos month… At least I am back at work again.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. While I don’t wear a face mask 100% of the time, especially when I’m just roaming the streets, I do prefer believing that such an accessory helps prevent, if it’s just by a tiny percentage, the transmission of viruses.

    As for peer-reviewed studies on the matter, I believe there are some out there if you dig long (which I didn’t want to do hahaha) but I found this if it helps:

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/facemasks-to-prevent-transmission-of-influenza-virus-a-systematicreview/64D368496EBDE0AFCC6639CCC9D8BC05

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. see, just the fact that you actually looked for some peer reviewed stuff gives your idea more weight.

      However, here’s a quote from it: (bolding will be mine)
      “There is some evidence to support the wearing of masks or respirators during illness to protect others, and public health emphasis on mask wearing during illness may help to reduce influenza virus transmission. There are fewer data to support the use of masks or respirators to prevent becoming infected.”

      That is a lot of mays, perhaps, maybes, etc. Plus, that is talking about influenza, from 2010. Not all viruses are created equal.

      I have zero problem with others wearing masks. but if people want to force me to change my behavior, and they have nothing to back it up, well, that is the very definition of tinpot tyranny.

      Liked by 1 person

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