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Discussion on Masks and Aerosols

I have spent many hours reading, watching and learning about the Covid-19 virus and it’s impact on the body’s defenses, as well as how we can mitigate it’s spread in our clinics as much as possible. Over the latter weeks moving towards this time of re-opening, the decisions and understanding of the importance, effectiveness and safety of masks in particular, has been a large pre-occupation amongst the profession.

I have therefore added here two articles with preceding excerpts, which discuss at length all the arguments and evidence, both in favour and against the use of masks to reduce aerosols, as it is an extensive subject and my intent was to give you a concise version of my assessment of the benefits and risks on this very controversial and current topic.

First Article excerpts…

If you walk outside right now, chances are you will see people wearing masks and practicing social distancing. These actions are in large part meant to prevent people from spreading or inhaling aerosols.

Another thing to consider is how easy these particles are to inhale. In a recent computer model study, researchers found that people would most likely inhale aerosols from another person that is talking and coughing while sitting less than 6 feet away.

Public health officials still don’t know whether direct contact, indirect contact through surfaces, or aerosols are the main pathway of transmission for the coronavirus. But everything experts like myself know about aerosols suggests that they could be a major pathway of transmission.

Overall, the evidence suggests that it is much more risky to be inside than outside. The reason is the lack of airflow. It takes between 15 minutes and three hours for an aerosol to be sucked outside by a ventilation system or float out an open window.

Second Article excerpts…

“Available evidence shows that (cloth masks)… may even increase the risk of infection due to moisture, liquid diffusion and retention of the virus. Penetration of particles through cloth is reported to be high.” “Altogether, common fabric cloth masks are not considered protective against respiratory viruses and their use should not be encouraged.”

(https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/face-masks.html)

“Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.”

The virus may survive on the surface of the facemasks.”

“Self-contamination through repeated use and improper doffing is possible.” (https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577)

Textile materials (that can be used for cloth masks) can contain harmful chemicals and dyes (i.e. formaldehyde). There is no research available regarding the safety of breathing through such materials but formaldehyde is a gas that can irritate a person’s eyes, nose, throat and lungs, or trigger an asthma attack, even at low concentrations. Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can cause cancer. (https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/fact-sheets/formaldehyde and https://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10875.pdf)

Wearing face masks is a constant reminder that we should fear this invisible enemy or “monster” as some politicians have called it – There is no doubt that wearing a mask reinforces the worry and fear about COVID-19. Even being in public mask-less and seeing that most people are wearing masks leaves one with a sense of angst. Fear, worry and anxiety are powerful immune suppressing emotions. This is another factor relating to the immunosuppressive effects of face masks.

Infectious disease wards in hospitals use masks, gloves and/or sleeves, visors, aprons and/or scrubs, whereas our clinics are generally filled with healthy, vibrant, thriving souls with no signs or symptoms of infection at all. So, we have decided after assessing the levels of risk to adopt a less ‘hazmat-like’ approach by using gloves and masks to honour the prevailing expectations, whilst there are arguments to suggest that rigorous hand washing is as good or better than gloves, and masks may not be ideal. 

We also have gloves, masks and plastic aprons available at no charge if requested or deemed necessary or appropriate for your use or ours during sessions.

See below for links to both articles…

woman-coughing-sneezing-aerosols

05-26-20-Masks_Featured_Image-800x417

 

 

 

Coronavirus drifts through the air in microscopic droplets – here’s the science of infectious aerosols, 

The Conversation – 24th April 2020

 

 

 

The Risks vs. Benefits of Face Masks- Is There an Agenda? Children’s Health Defense – MAY 26, 2020