It took just a few months for the humble face mask to rise to become the most essential accessory for 2020. However, despite the almost universal recommendation of the scientific community and despite government legislation requiring the wearing of face masks, rumours still circulate about their effectiveness with some ‘anti-masker’ groups going as far as to suggest that face masks are ineffective or even dangerous.
Trust is critical as we fight the battle against Covid-19, especially when it comes to face mask wearing. In this article we fact check what the experts have to say about 5 common face mask myths.
Myth #1 – Wearing a mask causes oxygen deprivation and carbon dioxide poisoning
FALSE: Dr Pierre Parneix, Medical Officer of Health at Bordeaux University Hospital addressed this and other rumours in a recent France Inter article. He quickly dispelled this rumour highlighting a recent study where there was no change to participants’ blood carbon dioxide levels even after exercising at a medium to sustained intensity for more than an hour while wearing the most waterproof masks. “While it’s true that slightly more carbon dioxide can accumulate inside the mask than outside, there is no evidence that this would lead to hypercapnia – an increase in the volume of CO2 in the blood – in masked individuals,” he said.
Over in Ireland Dr Maitiu O Tuathail (@DrZeroCraic) frustrated with COVID misinformation shared a video on Twitter where he put on six surgical masks over each other and demonstrated that it had no effect on his blood oxygen saturation. The tweet went viral with more than 500,000 views in just three days illustrating how hot this topic is.
At Intermed we believe that many of these breathability concerns are related to air flow of the masks. The Intermed Touchpoint masks comply with all the current worldwide protocols and guidelines* in terms of filtration, but the smart fabric technology provides one of the highest rates of airflow at 400L/M3 on the first use, and at least 200L/M2 after 50 washes. This adds significantly to user comfort and compliance.
* AFNOR SPEC S76-001 , CEN CWA17553, FDA (April 24 2020) and WHO (June 5 2020)
Myth #2 – Masks are useless because viruses are smaller than the mesh size and can therefore pass through.
FALSE: In this case, it is not the size of the virus that matters but the size of the particles on which the virus is transported as the virus cannot jump from person to person without a ‘transportation device’.
In most cases, the virus is transmitted on the large particles emitted when we cough or talk. “These particles are usually larger than 5 microns so a mask that complies with the 3 micron filtration requirement will stop transmission,” says Dr Parneix. “We do sometimes emit small particles of one micron or even less but, even so, the mask will still help prevent transmission because it would be unlikely that the particle will pass through the fibres without getting stuck at some point as the fibre network is quite random.”
Touchpoint smart fabric technology complies with all the current worldwide protocols and guidelines set by AFNOR SPEC S76-001 , CEN CWA17553, FDA (April 24 2020) and WHO (June 5 2020) which require that particles larger than 3 microns filtration cannot pass through the face mask fabric. This standard is maintained even after 50 washes making Touchpoint Face Masks a leading product in this market.
Myth #3 – You need to wash your mask at temperatures over 60 degrees Centigrade
FALSE: This was an earlier recommendation but in early September, the French Academy of Medicine advised that washing at 60°C was “no more justified for washing masks than for washing hands”. In fact, washing in soap and water, at any temperature, is an effective virus killer.
Since most household washes are set at 30°C or 40°C for economical reasons, the earlier 60°C requirement means that face masks require a special wash cycle and this in turn could means that masks are not washed as often as they could be. Touchpoint masks are coated with an additional anti-microbial Du Pont Silvadur coating that resists microbial growth, meaning that masks stay fresher for longer between washes.
Myth #4 – If you wear a face mask you don’t need to bother with physical distancing
TRUE BUT: only under certain conditions: “If two people who are physically close to each other wear masks, the risk of contamination is indeed extremely low,” says Dr Parneix. “However, everyone must wear the mask correctly, i.e. it must cover both the nose and mouth.”
In addition Dr Parneix pointed out that if we drop our guard in terms of physical distancing because we are wearing a mask, this may become habit and we may inadvertently forget to social distance at other times when we may not be wearing a mask such as when we are outside. This will increase the risk of infection.
Mask wearability is therefore important in our fight against Covid-19. If a mask is comfortable to wear, people will wear their masks correctly, and not be tempted to wear it below the chin or on their forehead. Touchpoint masks have been designed for comfort, with excellent coverage and ear loop adjusters that gently slide to ensure a snug mask fit. Because the masks are made of 100% cotton they are soft against the skin, and wick away moisture keeping the skin cooler than with other masks on the market.
Myth #5 – You can freeze your mask to kill the coronavirus
FALSE: This is a very bad idea for two reasons. Freezing a used mask will not kill bacteria or viruses but will “simply send them into hibernation and as soon as you thaw them, they will become virulent once more,” says Dr. Parneix.
In addition, freezing a mask will degrade the efficacy of the fabric in terms of filtration so you are making your mask less effective and more dangerous.
Touchpoint masks are easily washed which is an effective way to kill coronavirus. The Du Pont Silvadur coating resists bacterial growth and the masks also meet high certification standards so filtration is still effective even after 50X washes.
With the use of well designed and properly certified face masks such as the Touchpoint Smart Fabric Face Mask, we can do our part in protecting ourselves and our communities against coronavirus. Just as the careless use – or misuse – of face masks can result in the spread of the virus, so can misinformation and false news. We hope this fact check has been useful!
To learn more about our custom design and delivery from stock options, rapid delivery and low MOQ, please contact our sales team who will be delighted to help.