Various scientific mask studies

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  • A 2020 study in Science Advances found that neck gaiters, used as masks, unfortunately might break large droplets into smaller droplets that can travel through the air more easily. Surgical masks, cotton masks and even bandanas were more effective in preventing the spread of infection. But a COVID-19 virus is about 0.1 micrometer across - 1/10000 of a milimeter - so if you want complete protection, wear a respirator. 
  • According to an April 2020 meta-study at the University of Minnesota, one of the greatest problems of masks is that they provide a false sense of security, especially if they don't fit tightly. Too many people think if they wear a mask, social distancing becomes unnecessary. 
  • A February 2021 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that cloth masks can reduce the number of small, exhaled, infected droplets by 50% to 70%. They didn't do as much to keep the virus from coming in as from getting out. But they protected uninfected people from inhaling larger droplets.
  • A 2015 study of locally-made cloth masks in Vietnam suggested that unwashed cloth masks with moisture build-up can lead to more infections than surgical masks. So put your children's masks into the laundry at the end of the day, and give them fresh masks tomorrow.
  • A passenger with a dry cough flew from Wuhan, China (uh oh) to Toronto, but none of the 25 people in close contact ended up testing positive for COVID-19. He was wearing a mask. That's what researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in April 2020.
  • A March 2021 study found that Swedish teachers of (rarely masked) grades 7-9 were twice as likely to catch COVID-19 compared to teachers of grades 10-12, whose students were learning remotely. It didn't seem to make much difference with the students or their families, but even the partners/spouses of the middle school teachers were more likely to get infected.
  • In June 2020, some Italian plastic surgeons published a letter in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, saying that rubber bands on masks might distort the ears of smaller children, and suggesting masks with ear slits instead. 
  • Let's not forget YouTube as a source of medical knowledge. In a May 2020 experiment with high-speed laser-light video, researchers say the words “Stay healthy” at various volumes, with and without a mask. Droplets appear as flashes of light. Cool to watch! Or you can read about it in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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