by Ted Noel, MD, American Thinker:
Recently I was “fact checked” by PolitiFact for a demo I did showing that masks don’t stop the spread of aerosols (longer one here, shorter one here). The reporter asked for my comments and then said what his narrative required, without regard for any scientific data. The list of CDC and Medscape information in the video description escaped his attention. He also completely ignored the fact that Anthony Fauci has flip-flopped on masks more than a fresh-caught fish on deck.
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Scientists have been very busy. When the Wuhan Flu came to America, we were told to constantly bathe our hands in sanitizer. Now we know that very few cases are spread by contact, so constant hand-washing isn’t necessary. That leaves droplets and aerosols. Unfortunately, many studies use arbitrary size criteria to distinguish between them, giving us confusing answers. A better distinction is that droplets are too heavy to stay suspended in the air, so they follow a spitball’s trajectory to the floor. Aerosols can stay suspended for hours, much like cigarette smoke.
Masks work really well against spitballs — oops, droplets. These larger particles hit and stick. They don’t get through. So if you cough or sneeze, your mask, handkerchief, or elbow will do a great job of protecting your neighbor. But what about aerosols? You emit them every time you breathe, and if your neighbor sniffs after you break wind, you emitted an aerosol there, too. (Incidentally, COVID-19 is present in sewage in high concentrations.) We have enough data to show that these smaller, airborne particles are the real culprit in COVID-19 spread. How good are masks against aerosols?
We’ve all run into that irritating person who screams that “you’re going to kill someone!” if you take your mask off. Supposedly, my mask will protect that person from me. But that’s only half of the question. Will my mask protect me from you as well? The questions seem to depend on how well the mask filters. So scientists have gotten very busy looking at filtration. One study shows that single-layer cloth masks are essentially worthless, letting over 90% of viruses through. Others claim great efficacy. What’s a mother to do?
Our first problem is to simply look at the aerosol mask studies. Virtually all of them use a mechanical gadget to measure how much gets through a mask. That leads to us learning that more layers work better. Duh! You knew that from your house’s air-conditioning filter. Higher MERV and HEPA filters reduce the dust in your house. They also reduce viruses. An astute student of the obvious would have guessed that a better filter would reduce the number of viruses that get through a mask. But what I showed wasn’t about filtration.
That “smoke” from a vape wasn’t designed to tell you “how much?” of your breath went around your mask. That would be a “quantitative” demonstration. Instead, it was intended to show “what?” was happening with your breath. It’s a “qualitative” demonstration. Where do the aerosols go? They go into the room to be mixed with the next breath and the next breath… Then they get recirculated and concentrated some more by the A/C system, unless you have a high MERV filter or UV sterilization.
Let’s look at the lady who screamed about me killing the kid in the next checkout line.
This study was published five — count ’em — five months ago, so even “Doctor” Fauci would know about it. It has a lot of good information, and it addresses something I demonstrated in my videos — leaks. But first, filtration.
As I noted above, this set of German authors clearly demonstrated that with more layers, you get more filtration.
If you want the very best filtration, wear a vacuum cleaner bag (top line) over your head. But that bag has so much resistance that you’ll also need that eight-amp motor to get air in and out. This brings us to a key point. When filtration is so essential that any contamination might be fatal — such as in the Wuhan Institute of Virology — you need a powered source of clean air to be able to breathe at all. That degree of protection is why Level IV virology labs use space suits and powered air instead of street clothes and surgical masks. If they need it to protect from such a lethal virus as the Wuhan Flu, shouldn’t you be wearing one all the time?
The flip side of this is this is that if you really, really want to be able to breathe, you need a mask that doesn’t filter at all, at least as you breathe out.
(Note top left panel.)
That’s why a lot of masks have that button valve on them. It opens as you breathe out, making it easy by not filtering at all as you exhale. That’s a massive leak. And this brings us to that key measurement in the study.
My N95 mask has roughly forty square inches of total area. If two percent (2%) of that area leaks, total filtration efficiency drops by two thirds. That’s a total leak the size of a quarter. Because the N95 is such a good filter, it has very high resistance. It’s tough to breathe in, but that suction will pull the mask against your face, helping it seal. That’s why there is decent evidence that properly fitted N95s will protect health care workers in high-exposure environments.