Top 5 Mask Tips
Strategies to help make this unexpected “accessory” work for you.
Mask Filtration Demystified
Many people have been wondering what the point of wearing a mask is if it is unable to filter out the tiny size of a virus. That is a good question. When a scientist or healthcare provider enters into an environment where they will come in close contact with known and dangerous pathogens, it is appropriate for them to take the highest levels of precautions (and filtration) so that they limit their exposure and don’t carry that pathogen out with them into the world.
In most settings, however, pathogens aren’t transmitted as the malicious free particles floating about that we imagine. For example, viral respiratory infections are commonly transmitted via droplet spread. I.e. the virus is spread through very small drops of things like saliva and snot. This is the reason why we always see recommendations to “cover your cough.” Besides the obvious “ick” factor, this is why sneezing with abandon is simply not done. Droplets are obviously spread with the loud “achoooo!” of the common cold, but also may be shared via less-obvious means such as talking and laughing.
Non-medical masks, such as the now popular DIY cloth masks can be helpful to reduce the droplets that we unintentionally share with the world. Rather than going out into our immediate environment unchecked, at least some of them are stopped by the fabric covering our nose and mouth. Also, when interacting with someone else, a number of their would-be shared droplets may be trapped on the outside of our protective mask… rather than going directly to our vulnerable mucous membranes of the nose and mouth.
Mask-Wearing Tips and Tricks
So now you have a cloth mask and are wearing it in public settings, but are having some struggles. Here are some strategies to manage common problems you may encounter.