I was going to try and be nice and sociable, not ranting anymore. Especially since I have been told to “drop me, you are too negative” by several who have been on my email list for years.
But then I have been hit from multiple sides by do-gooders who think it is a wonderful idea to make masks at home. This is the equivalent of knitting socks & hats for the troops, only not as good or effective. Knitting socks & hats kept those not involved happy, busy, and feeling like they were contributing to the war effort. In modern times, that connection was probably even more important as, with the ending of most countries drafts, fewer and fewer citizens served, knew anyone who served, or anyone who was serving.
Connection is good.
But a false sense of security is an extreme health risk for everyone.
Down the rabbit hole:
Why does anyone wear a mask in a medical setting?
Surgical masks are worn in a medical setting to protect others from YOU. Repeat, the mask protects those around you from whatever droplets/particles you might be producing. In order to be effective, the mask must be of specified materials that left through the minimum amount of anything. Breath goes through, aerosols, for the most part do not. Medical personnel wear them routinely in specified settings, understanding both the reasons for the wear and the limitations of a mask. The medical personnel are wearing masks to 1) protect you from anything they might have – in which case, something might be better than nothing 2) to protect them from you – and a face shield is probably better than a mask.
M95 masks, so named because they filter out 95%, are denser, have to be fitted closely, are uncomfortable to wear and have a limited life span (about 4 hours). There are requirements for fitting, wearing, and handling. Frankly, the industrial painters masks are very similar, but not completely the same.
From there you go to enclosed systems which completely cover the nose and mouth, delivering “packaged” air or O2 such as airline respirators or scuba gear. Since you aren’t breathing anything from your surroundings, you don’t get anything from your surroundings. Until you take the equipment off and don’t handle decontamination properly (normally not an issue).
So why I am so upset about people making their own?
1) there is absolutely no evidence that home made masks will do good.
2) there is abundant evidence that hand made masks can do harm
If wearing something on your face gives you a sense of security – remember, that masks protects other from YOU. If you need a mask, you need to be home. Period. Full stop. Not out potentially exposing others. If you are wearing something home made, it is not going to protect you from others. And it is not going to protect them from you. And frankly, neither is that surgical mask worn by someone else for day after day. So making/wearing a homemade mask gives a false sense of security. See one on someone else? Give them a wide berth. Same as if you see someone wearing a mask over their mouth, but not their nose. Breath in through the nose? Right….
At this point, the New York Times (for US) is probably a better source of information than the CDC. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the US current administration deliberately underplayed the seriousness of what could potentially happen. The NYT webpages about corona virus are free; they are not political. And, even if you are an extremely conservative person, the NYT is not slanting the news.
The US is at 29k+ cases; deaths in 33 states. 316k+ cases world wide. Before anyone thinks that “what is happening in Italy is not going to happen here” just remember they are at least one incubation period, and probably 2-3 incubation cycles ahead of us. Canada is hunkering down, as is Australia. Germany, Spain, France have been there for days. You can’t get an accurate reading from any of the numbers except to see how they are growing. As the epidemic spreads, testing in many countries is only applied to those who are sick. Figure that numbers for most countries are significantly lower than the actual number of cases.
But back to masks. If you are not comfortable going out without a mask, stay home. If you can’t stay home, stay away from other people as much as humanly possible. Wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, nose, and mouth. Even ordinary mittens and gloves worn on your hands will prevent you from picking up whatever is on that grocery cart handle. Just take them off properly. Wash, repeat. Bring your own bags. Cancel unnecessary meetings, trips. Stay away from medical sites unless you are actually and significantly sick – then follow the appropriate directions–whether they be “call ahead,” “go through the tent,” “stand 2 meters from everyone else.” Avoid those acting like obvious idiots.
Reach out to family and friends. Make a phone call, a FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp check in. If you are young and healthy, run errands for those who are not. If, like me, you are high risk, restrain yourself from being stupid.
And masks? Batman, Superman, Zombie are equally effective as anything you can make (baring access to medical grade materiel) and a lot more entertaining….
*Many hospitals are NOT accepting donated masks. The few that are have been very clear about specifics – two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric with a layer of cotton batting in-between. Prewash the fabric, wash the mask after making. These masks may wind up going through hospital laundry at 60*C. Artificial fibers melting would not be good for the washing machines.
Of much more use are a couple of companies that have developed patterns for 3D printed face shields…