A DIY face mask and other ways to fight the Corona virus

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  • 05 Apr 2020 20:26
    Reply # 8880143 on 8879635
    Anonymous wrote:

    This matter of the facemask’s usefulness (or lack of it) seems to have grown out of its original frame.

    Since I am the one who was dumb enough to open this topic, I want to clarify a little.

    As I wrote in my original write-up:

    ·         Making one’s own facemask was to avoid that hospitals run short of masks (or because they already had taken over all of the professional ones).

    ·         The main way of avoiding spreading the virus, is keeping a distance to others.

    ·         I only recommend using the facemask for the short period of time when we need to do some shopping (once a week?). The mask will not be saturated by water in just 20 minutes.

    ·         The mask is meant to protect others from the wearer, not the other way around. It has been found that many don’t get any symptoms, but can still infect others.

    ·         When donning the mask at entering the shop , the mask is clean, with  next to no virus or bacteria (right from the hot steam- iron)

    Simple as that - I just want to reduce the likelihood of infecting others.

    It has been argued that if one is sneezing or coughing, one should stay away, and if one is not sneezing, one doesn’t need the mask. I am not so sure about that. Anyone who has been out in really frosty weather, knows that our breath suddenly becomes visible: Moist condensates and freezes, so we can see it. It is this moist and droplets which I want to stop with my mask.
    In addition to my first test to blow out a lighter’s flame, held in front of the mask (the flame hardly moved), I did another test yesterday:

    Standing in front of a mirror, about 10-15cm away from it, I breathed (panted), and dew formed on the mirror, as expected. I then repeated the exercise with the mask on. The result was that no dew formed on the mirror.
    I therefore conclude that wearing a clean and dry homemade facemask, worn for a short period of time, will be better in protecting the surrounding people, than not wearing that mask.

     

    Arne

     


    Arne, I think we both agree that we all should be doing everything we can to keep as many people safe as possible.  I haven't seen anyone object that all N95 masks should be heading to hospitals.  I think we have all agreed that physical distancing and hand washing are the most effective ways we can slow the spread of Covid-19.

    However, what you are doing is essentially citizen science and as discovery is a process fraught with error, you have made some mistakes.  For example, your experiment breathing on glass is flawed.  Almost all of what you saw was condensing water vapor, which doesn't carry viable virus.  I redid your experiment this morning, but instead used a microscope slide and high magnification on a phase contrast microscope.  What you see is nothing once the condensed water vapor has evaporated again.  That is not to say it is impossible for breathing or speaking to pass along any virus at all.  But, the quantities are very low and unlikely to cause infection.  Even my experiment was flawed in that I really should have coated the inside of my mouth with dye before breathing on the slide to make any droplets easier to see.  Even that experiment is flawed, because it matters whether the is virus viable in the droplets (coarse or aerosol)....

    Rather than making this post even longer, I'd encourage you to read this review and if you find any flaws in it I'd be happy to dig further into the scientific literature if anyone is interested.  If everyone wore and used a mask EXACTLY as Arne does then there probably would be little harm, but also probably little benefit.  If cloth masks alter peoples behaviour so that more effective means of limiting viral spread are compromised, then masks are actually detrimental.  The next time you go grocery shopping note how close the people wearing masks come to you compared to those who are not.  

    Even when it comes to limiting your shedding of virus, masks are not as simple a tool as putting up a wall.

    I started commenting on this thread with the hope of making everyone safer.  I hope, even for those that choose to or are forced to wear masks, that some additional information on how masks work and how to use them safely has been useful.  Please understand that there is nuance in mask use and efficacy.  Cloth masks don't do enough good to help much and can themselves cause problems.  Right now, all the other kinds of masks are in such short supply that they just aren't an option.   Besides, a grocery store is still a very safe place compared to a hospital.

  • 05 Apr 2020 14:55
    Reply # 8879789 on 8855224
    Thank you Arne. Your summary of why a home-made mask is the way to go is absolutely clear, especially for those who have no choice but to expose themselves to risk by shopping for vulnerable neighbours etc etc, meaning more trips to shops than might be recommended. The more un-clinical the pattern, the better, to show that it is home-made so that others may follow suit. Millions of households must have the materials, and the time... 

    Joking, really, I would advocate cooking the whole mask in a steamer or even a pressure cooker (just cos I like them!) Clearly the hygiene in donning and subsequent  handling of the mask is extremely important. 

    Thanks to all others who have shed light on this vexing question. What an great collection of worldwide input!!

    Pol.

  • 05 Apr 2020 11:09
    Reply # 8879684 on 8855224

    Arne.

    Thank you very much for such a clear, logical and

    practical exposition of the use and need for face masks  

    To help reduce the spread, and SAVE LIVES  

    Brilliant  


  • 05 Apr 2020 09:40
    Reply # 8879635 on 8855224
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This matter of the facemask’s usefulness (or lack of it) seems to have grown out of its original frame.

    Since I am the one who was dumb enough to open this topic, I want to clarify a little.

    As I wrote in my original write-up:

    ·         Making one’s own facemask was to avoid that hospitals run short of masks (or because they already had taken over all of the professional ones).

    ·         The main way of avoiding spreading the virus, is keeping a distance to others.

    ·         I only recommend using the facemask for the short period of time when we need to do some shopping (once a week?). The mask will not be saturated by water in just 20 minutes.

    ·         The mask is meant to protect others from the wearer, not the other way around. It has been found that many don’t get any symptoms, but can still infect others.

    ·         When donning the mask at entering the shop , the mask is clean, with  next to no virus or bacteria (right from the hot steam- iron)

    Simple as that - I just want to reduce the likelihood of infecting others.

    It has been argued that if one is sneezing or coughing, one should stay away, and if one is not sneezing, one doesn’t need the mask. I am not so sure about that. Anyone who has been out in really frosty weather, knows that our breath suddenly becomes visible: Moist condensates and freezes, so we can see it. It is this moist and droplets which I want to stop with my mask.
    In addition to my first test to blow out a lighter’s flame, held in front of the mask (the flame hardly moved), I did another test yesterday:

    Standing in front of a mirror, about 10-15cm away from it, I breathed (panted), and dew formed on the mirror, as expected. I then repeated the exercise with the mask on. The result was that no dew formed on the mirror.
    I therefore conclude that wearing a clean and dry homemade facemask, worn for a short period of time, will be better in protecting the surrounding people, than not wearing that mask.

     

    Arne

     


    Last modified: 05 Apr 2020 11:21 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 05 Apr 2020 03:37
    Reply # 8879451 on 8879300
    Anonymous wrote:

     Let me point out the obvious..... The comment about cloth masks becoming "dangerous" is absurd in this context.   Viruses do not reproduce except by injecting their DNA into human cells..... or whatever organism they are programmed to infect.  They will NOT breed and reproduce in the warm moist environment of a cloth mask.  This applies ONLY to bacterial pathogens, and not all of them.  

        In another bit of ignorance,  it was suggested that surgical masks were somehow superior to an N95.......... which is utter nonsense.    Surgical masks are only to prevent things from the doctor or nurse's mouth or nose... water droplets, etc from contaminating the operation.  They do not fit even remotely tightly.  They cup out at the cheeks, and allow air to enter and exit through those cups.

         The N95 designation means that the mask will filter out 95% of small particles.   These are the masks you buy at the hardware store or auto parts store as dust masks.  That box of masks you bought when sanding fiberglass on your boat is probably N95 designation.... I know the box of 50 3M masks I have on a back shelf I bought at the local hardware store has that designation.   The press picked up on N95, and has repeated it and blown  it up out of proportion, as if it were some special medical grade mask...... it's not.  It's a dust mask!

         I encountered a friend at the grocery store the other day who was wearing a mask, and commented on it........ he proudly proclaimed that it was an N95.  I pointed out that it had a valve, and thus was useless in protecting people around him if he should be infected.  If you have one with a valve, you should tape over the valve for the protection of others.  


    Just a bit of humor......... It appears that we are about to receive help from a higher power.  I've seldom laughed so hard!     Judgment is Executed by  Kenneth Copeland

    This was March 30th, and as you have no doubt observed the number of infections and deaths in the US has been in steep decline ever since   ;-)


                                                                    H.W.

    Howard, I think you misread the article.

    The categories of masks were N95, surgical, and cloth, listed in order of effectiveness.

    Yes, viruses don't breed on wet masks, however as you stated other things do.  The last thing you need in a Covid outbreak is another form of respiratory infection.  This problem becomes worse as you reuse a mask if it is not adequately sterilized.

    I think there is also another issue with the wet mask, which your earlier suggestion of a salt layer applies to.  As the cloth mask becomes wet the layer of water retains virus, also a wet mask begins to clog the pores of the mask and you effectively begin to increase the vaccuum inside as you breath.  As the mask becomes progressively wet you can begin to draw that water saturated with the virus through the mask.  The coarser pore size of a home-made cloth mask an the fact that cloth masks are not hydrophobic causes the problem.

    For something that looks so simple from the outset, masks are surprisingly complex, especially if you look at using them in a heterogeneous group of users.

  • 05 Apr 2020 03:00
    Reply # 8879428 on 8855224

    I too plead guilty to spending far too much time pondering the “public wearing of masks” question, and promise to refrain henceforth.

    In the bigger scheme of things, it is probably almost “neither here nor there”.

    I am assuming we are talking only of the simple surgical mask and/or the home-made cloth mask, neither of which are for the primary purpose of protecting the wearer. On balance I would say yes: the mask will suppress emissions from people with symptoms (who should not be outside anyway, but may well be) and might help asymptomatic people from touching their faces. The argument that it will lead indirectly to a reduction in the proper protective masks which should otherwise be available for the protection of health workers has some merit, but seems to me to be a weak one.

    It seems that expert opinion is divided, but anyway masks for the public are way down near the bottom of the list of things which are needed to suppress the outbreak. It is becoming evident that physical separation of people (staying home) and correct hygiene are the two most important contributions the general public can make. Making and wearing a DIY mask in public does seem to me, in balance, not a bad thing, symbolic or emblematic of social responsibility at the very least, and possibly helpful in reducing transmission.

    Good (honest) leadership together with a united and agile administration seem to be the most important factors that will decide which countries come out of this pandemic the worst or the best, and I think we all now know which are the most effective government-imposed policies. The link provided by Howard demonstrates an appalling example of leadership.

    Since people are swapping video links frequently now, may I offer this? It is an interesting historical documentary on the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic (which did not originate in Spain – it probably originated in the USA [The great Influenza  John M. Barry] where some people maintained the cultural practice of rearing pigs – which means it could have happened almost anywhere, really). The viral leap resulted in between 50 million and 100 million deaths. Over 657,000 in the USA alone, more than the combined total of all American deaths in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan. (At this point in time the covid19 death toll world-wide is slightly over 60,000.)

    I thought it was one of those very good educational documentaries. We really ought to study history much more than we do.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDY5COg2P2c  


    Last modified: 05 Apr 2020 08:54 | Anonymous member
  • 05 Apr 2020 00:19
    Reply # 8879300 on 8879112
    Anonymous wrote:

    I'm getting tired or reading and writing about masks, and I'm sure most who have been patient enough to read what I've written have felt the same.  Before I step away from it, I thought I would share this paper, which is probably the single best one I found on the effectiveness of home-made masks.  I know some of you are in areas where masks are becoming mandatory so it is worth being aware of the limits, especially home-made masks.  I couldn't find a scientific article to confirm it, but this article in TIME also suggests that cloth masks may become more dangerous as they get moist, so if you use cloth masks change them to keep them dry and store the used ones safely until they can be sterilised again.

    For those that don't have to wear masks, this paper is a good example of why every single N95 mask available should be heading to a hospital in need.  The demand for them is global and even if your local hospitals have enough, this chart shows a good reason not to use N95's yourself.



     Let me point out the obvious..... The comment about cloth masks becoming "dangerous" is absurd in this context.   Viruses do not reproduce except by injecting their DNA into human cells..... or whatever organism they are programmed to infect.  They will NOT breed and reproduce in the warm moist environment of a cloth mask.  This applies ONLY to bacterial pathogens, and not all of them.  

        In another bit of ignorance,  it was suggested that surgical masks were somehow superior to an N95.......... which is utter nonsense.    Surgical masks are only to prevent things from the doctor or nurse's mouth or nose... water droplets, etc from contaminating the operation.  They do not fit even remotely tightly.  They cup out at the cheeks, and allow air to enter and exit through those cups.

         The N95 designation means that the mask will filter out 95% of small particles.   These are the masks you buy at the hardware store or auto parts store as dust masks.  That box of masks you bought when sanding fiberglass on your boat is probably N95 designation.... I know the box of 50 3M masks I have on a back shelf I bought at the local hardware store has that designation.   The press picked up on N95, and has repeated it and blown  it up out of proportion, as if it were some special medical grade mask...... it's not.  It's a dust mask!

         I encountered a friend at the grocery store the other day who was wearing a mask, and commented on it........ he proudly proclaimed that it was an N95.  I pointed out that it had a valve, and thus was useless in protecting people around him if he should be infected.  If you have one with a valve, you should tape over the valve for the protection of others.  


    Just a bit of humor......... It appears that we are about to receive help from a higher power.  I've seldom laughed so hard!     Judgment is Executed by  Kenneth Copeland

    This was March 30th, and as you have no doubt observed the number of infections and deaths in the US has been in steep decline ever since   ;-)


                                                                    H.W.

    Last modified: 05 Apr 2020 00:20 | Anonymous member
  • 04 Apr 2020 21:40
    Reply # 8879112 on 8855224

    I'm getting tired or reading and writing about masks, and I'm sure most who have been patient enough to read what I've written have felt the same.  Before I step away from it, I thought I would share this paper, which is probably the single best one I found on the effectiveness of home-made masks.  I know some of you are in areas where masks are becoming mandatory so it is worth being aware of the limits, especially home-made masks.  I couldn't find a scientific article to confirm it, but this article in TIME also suggests that cloth masks may become more dangerous as they get moist, so if you use cloth masks change them to keep them dry and store the used ones safely until they can be sterilised again.

    For those that don't have to wear masks, this paper is a good example of why every single N95 mask available should be heading to a hospital in need.  The demand for them is global and even if your local hospitals have enough, this chart shows a good reason not to use N95's yourself.


  • 04 Apr 2020 18:08
    Reply # 8878918 on 8878535
    Anonymous wrote:

    Re-using a non-reusable mask.

    I leave it to you to decide if you will use a facemask or not.

    An armchair idea:
    This idea struck me: How can one sterilise and then reuse a ‘non-reusable’ mask?
    My guess is that they will not survive a flat-iron treatment, but I see two other options:

    ·         Soak it in alcohol for a while and then let it dry.

    ·         Put it in the oven which has been set to 100°C, and keep it there for, say fifteen minutes.

    If the mask has not disintegrated because of one of these treatments, it should now be virus-free and ready for another use.
    Just a thought....

    Arne

    A bit of research over coffee this morning suggests that the short answer is no, here is a link to an entire book on the subject if you want the long answer, the amount of info available in the free preview should satisfy most of us.  Most of the scientific articles I could find were geared to hospital settings where there is a need to reuse masks at a pretty short interval.  If you are only going shopping once a week and you can carefully quarantine your mask in a breathable paper bag in the interim.  Then, there should not be infectious Coronavirus on the mask after six days.  I'm not sure if there might be long-term risk from other pathogens by doing this (some other things such as molds, fungus have long-lasting spores etc, that the mask would eventually accumulate).  There are also other pathogens that have prolonged environmental survival (e.g., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, Clostridium difficile, norovirus, etc.).   

    If you were to try this it would be very important to wash you hands, then remove and quarantine the mask, then wash your hands.  The first handwash stops you from contaminating the mask, the second prevents the mask from contaminating you.  Here is a more extensive guidance on extended mask use.

    I'm still in favour of not wearing masks by anyone who doesn't have to work in very close conditions with other people.



    Last modified: 04 Apr 2020 20:05 | Anonymous member
  • 04 Apr 2020 11:26
    Reply # 8878535 on 8855224
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Re-using a non-reusable mask.

    I leave it to you to decide if you will use a facemask or not.

    An armchair idea:
    This idea struck me: How can one sterilise and then reuse a ‘non-reusable’ mask?
    My guess is that they will not survive a flat-iron treatment, but I see two other options:

    ·         Soak it in alcohol for a while and then let it dry.

    ·         Put it in the oven which has been set to 100°C, and keep it there for, say fifteen minutes.

    If the mask has not disintegrated because of one of these treatments, it should now be virus-free and ready for another use.
    Just a thought....

    Arne

     


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