Mask or No Mask

This is an issue for several reasons.  I will only address the mechanical.  The mask is a filter.  When you wear the mask, what’s on the inside stays on the inside, and what’s on the outside stays on the outside.  That’s the hope anyway.

Now, no matter which side we are talking about, when air is drawn into the mask, particulate matter sticks to the mask.  When the air flow reverses, some particulates dislodge and enter the air again.  On the inside of the mask, this is your crap.  You breathe it out, then you breathe it back in.  But, that’s okay.  It’s your crap.  It won’t hurt you and because it’s trapped inside, more importantly, it will not hurt others.  So, if you’re sick WEAR A MASK!

Now, on the outside of the mask, the same thing occurs, only this time, it’s everybody else’s crap.  If there is something harmful in the air on the outside of the mask, you draw it to the mask when you breathe in, and SPREAD it around every time you breathe out.  So, if you come into contact with an infected person (old flattop) and his particulates stick to the outside of the mask, then every time you breathe out, you spread his disease back at him… and everyone else.  Hello Typhoid Mary!  This is why doctors change masks BETWEEN patients.  Impractical for you.

What to do?  Change masks often.  If it’s disposable, throw it away.  If it is cloth and reuseable, soak in a bleach solution before laundering.  Most importantly, MARK THE INSIDE, AND NEVER EVER WEAR YOUR UNDERWEAR INSIDE OUT!!!  Even if clean.

If you take it off DON’T put it back on!

11 thoughts on “Mask or No Mask

  1. I pretty much agree, with a couple of quibbles.

    Skip the bleach, soap kills coronavirus more effectively than bleach. The coronavirus has a lipoprotien envelope around the RNA. Basically a coating of grease. Soap destroys that coat in 30 seconds, bleach takes 20 minutes.

    If your mask needs a quick decontamination without getting it wet. the microwave will do it in 30 seconds(unless your mask has a metal stiffener at the bridge of the nose)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If soap works best use soap (Blue Dawn cleans crude off of ducks), but likewise, one minor quibble with the minor quibble… Chlorine in water will not stay there, it boils off rapidly (otherwise your tap water would really stink), therefore most household bleaches add sodium hydroxide (or some other sodium hydrorsomethingorother) to the solution to keep the chlorine in place, which is why if you get household bleach on your hands, it feels soapy. It feels that way because it is turning the fat in your hands into soap and it’s a pain to rinse it off.

      My personal method would be; Soak in bleach, wash in soapy water, rinse, microwave to dry, and burn before throwing the ashes in the toilet.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I may be wrong on this (what else is new?) but I seem to recall that letting a used mask sit in the sun for a few hours should also do the trick.

        Also, if you use the mask and stay away from people, as in shopping with few people in the grocery store, the amount of external pathogens would be pretty small. I believe volume is important with viral contamination.

        Of course, I may be wrong about this too.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. “Hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet radiation appeared to be at least somewhat more effective, they wrote, “but it is not known if they would retain filtration, material strength and airflow integrity with repeated use.””

          So the idea being attempted by the nursing home in my post could be beneficial up to the time the integrity of the masks is no longer effective from continuing use. But the technique seems sound..


  2. Just a quick note on PPE reuse. Last week, the maintenance director of a local nursing community contacted me about germicidal UV light bulbs and a small (2 foot) light fixture to put them in. He informed me they were attempting to come up with a way to disinfect and reuse some of their PPE. We ended up modifying a 4-foot fluorescent fixture to operate the germicidal bulbs that he would mount in a box they were building to clean the PPE.

    I believe the medical grade germicidal bulbs will help in this effort. Don, with your background, can you give us an idea if the idea is an effective one for reusing PPE?

    But on the “scam” side of that equation, another customer requested “black light light bulbs” that he was going to install in his under-the-cabinet fixtures in his kitchen, to keep his counter tops clean. I attempted to explain that it is not an effective tool for what he wanted, but he insisted he saw something on the internet that told him it would work and protect his family. The customer is always right. I do hope he doesn’t end up ill for his misconception


    1. What about his eyes?? Black light ain’t eye safe, is it? I seem to remember from back in my college stoner days that all of those black light fixtures came with hoods to avoid direct light and to project the light on to those really cool posters because the reflected light was considered safe.


      1. Well most black light bulbs today are either in fun houses or bug zappers. The placement of the under cabinet fixture has a natural shielding effect, so it should be OK.

        But like I said, the customer is always right.


    2. I would think it would depend on the mask.

      Medical grade UV lights have to be used in a containment apparatus. They will burn your retina. The same would go for the UV bulbs used in septic systems to sterilize wastewater. But assuming you can build a box suitable for containing and reflecting the light, it should work on single layer masks if they are sufficiently translucent.

      A 3 layer mask made of black broadcloth likely would not sterilize the middle layer.

      A microwave would work but many masks have a metallic stiffener at the nose that rules that out.

      As a practical matter, if you have multiple masks to disinfect, with multiple layers and colors, Pasteurizing might be your best choice. 158F (70C) for 30 minutes is NOT sterilizing, as bacterial spores will survive, but it will kill the virus. Most ovens have a warming setting that is about 170F and 30 minutes will do it. Most masks won’t melt and lose filtration at that temp.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your feedback. Good info.

        I know they were building a containment box and they know to protect their eyes properly when the lights are on. (Skin also, as the bulbs say that)


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