Masks and COVID-19: Information Roundup

Came across yet more anti-mask stuff today, so I figured I’d do a single blog post I could link to rather than trying to have probably-pointless individual arguments and discussions.

I may add more links and research later on…

Do Masks Really Stop the Virus?

Short answer? Like most anything, they’re not perfect. But they help. A lot.

“[F]ace masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the virus.” (Mayo Clinic)

“Coronavirus is primarily transmitted person to person via respiratory spray. Staying away from people (social distancing) and decreasing the germs being transmitted between people are both ways to decrease the spread of the virus. While high quality research regarding mask use is limited, all of the data supports mask wearing as a key public health measure to decrease viral spread.” (American Lung Association, Emphasis Added)

“One recent study in BMJ Global Health looked at transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in 124 families in which at least one member had COVID-19. The data showed that face masks were ‘79% effective in reducing transmission’ if the person with COVID-19 wore them before they developed symptoms.” (Medical News Today)

“Studies have demonstrated that cloth masks reduce the number of microorganisms that someone releases into the air. So the more people wear masks in an area, the fewer potential viral droplets go into the space, and the less risk that someone will be exposed to the virus.” (Cleveland Clinic)

Do Masks Cause Low Oxygen Levels?

If you have a preexisting lung condition, you’ll want to talk to your doctor. But for everyone else? You should be fine.

“We wear masks all day long in the hospital. The masks are designed to be breathed through and there is no evidence that low oxygen levels occur. There is some evidence, however, that prolonged use of N-95 masks in patients with preexisting lung disease could cause some build-up of carbon dioxide levels in the body. People with preexisting lung problems should discuss mask wearing concerns with their health care providers. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that mask wearing or physical distancing weakens the immune system.” (American Lung Association)

“In the real world, the average mask user without preexisting respiratory illness has nothing to worry about — except COVID-19.” (Hartford HealthCare

“The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency. While wearing a medical mask, make sure it fits properly and that it is tight enough to allow you to breathe normally. Do not re-use a disposable mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp.” (World Health Organization)

If You Have COVID-19, Won’t Masks Prevent You From Exhaling Viral Particles and Cause Your Disease to Get Worse?

“While it’s true that some studies of health care workers have suggested that the viral dose is an important determinant of infection, it’s different for someone who is already infected. If you are sick, you already have the virus in your lungs; it’s not going to get any worse.” (Amy Price, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at Stanford)

Wearing Masks Will Cause Cancer!

I hadn’t seen this one before today. I wonder if it’s in reference to a study about masks being reprocessed using potentially harmful chemicals…

“Nurses at CHI facil­i­ties reported that respi­ra­tors and face masks were being collected for repro­cessing using ethylene oxide to decon­t­a­m­i­nate. The EPA has concluded that ethylene oxide is carcino­genic to humans and that exposure to ethylene oxide increases the risk of lymphoid cancer and, for females, breast cancer.” (Washington State Nurses Association)

That’s all I could find. If anyone has any information of research about masks posing a cancer risk, please let me know. Otherwise, I’m gonna assume this is up there with “windmill cancer” and other nonsense.