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Are you wearing the wrong mask?

New research shows two popular masks are probably worse than none at all.

This research was conducted by a team of researchers at Duke University, including a professor of physics, chemistry, radiology and also biomedical engineering, the type of guy you would have wanted on your side last time you played Trivial Pursuit against a team of Nobel Prizewinners.

For a second opinion, join our webinar August 25th at 1 PM EDT, featuring COVID Uber-Expert Dr Ian Lipkin (yes, the same Dr. Ian Lipkin you've seen on every major network in th last few months), in a virtual open-mik Q&A session covering this and every other COVID-related topic.

First, the good news. The tried-and-true disposable surgical mask is indeed effective. Those little blue ones that you hook to your ears do the job. 100,000 surgeons can't be wrong.

Cloth masks also work. People tend to adjust them more often, putting their fingers all over their faces, and it's easy to get sweaty underneath them and want to take them off. Nonetheless, when used correctly, they work. And while the notion that they degrade after being washed has never been widely accepted, it is the case that washing them correctly is truly a first-world problem. (Hot water, bleach, no scented detergent, thorough drying, careful not to tear the straps.)

Other masks--the N95 Respirator, for example -- were found to be very effective.


Now for the bad news.

Those increasingly popular masks with the "exhalation valves," previously used mostly in the construction industry, have some superspreader potential. They were designed to prevent the inhalation of particles, while exhaling was made easy through the one-way valve. To imagine how those valves might spread COVID, blow up a balloon. Now squeeze the balloon and see how far and fast the air travels. See?

Worst of all are those "neck gaiters" that runners use, when made (as most are) of stretch fabric such as Spandex. By being so breathable, they seem to split larger exhaled particles into smaller ones, which linger longer. (Small particles can linger in uncirculating indoor air up to 8 minutes.) As a result, those masks were found to be less effective than no mask at all.


Got follow-up questions? Join the webinar and you may have a chance to ask them to Dr. Lipkin. Register now, as space really is limited unless we decide to pay Zoom more money, as though they don't already have enough. And if you want your question queued up early to be answered, ping Quizzifans, Quizzify customers, and Quizzify groupies (yes, there are some) get first dibs.


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