N95 masks recommended by CDC and others, despite 3M warning.

by Dave Crow Dec 31, 2021

As a prelude to selling more N95 masks, the CDC, Mayo clinic and others, including Leana Wen are now telling you that your homespun mask won’t work anymore. The fact that it never did isn’t the point. The point is that this is not a DIY pandemic. This is a pandemic of we’re going to sell it to you, whether you like it or not…and we’re not going to guarantee that it will work.

You have to love Leana Wen’s tone in the video above—scolding, belittling, paternalistic. “Cloth masks are not appropriate for this pandemic. It is, was, not appropriate for omicron, delta, alpha or any of the previous variants either! It sounded like she wanted to add, “You dumb shits, you should already know that,” very close to “we told you so.” Variants previous to alpha?

I was was in the grocery store yesterday, standing behind an elderly woman in line who was wearing an N95 mask over her cloth mask. Her chest was heaving, she could barely breathe and I don’t think that she has just jogged in to pick up a pack of cigarettes. I thought to myself, this just can’t be right, so I decided to do a little research. I checked the OSHA website:

Will an N95 respirator protect the wearer from the virus that causes COVID-19?

Yes, an N95 respirator is effective in protecting workers from the virus that causes COVID-19. “N95” refers to a class of respirator filter that removes at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) particles from the air. Some people have mistakenly claimed that since the virus that causes COVID-19 is approximately 0.1 microns in size, wearing an N95 respirator will not protect against such a small virus. That mistaken claim appears to result from a misunderstanding of how respirators work.

 

When an infected person expels the virus into the air by activities like talking, coughing, or sneezing, the airborne particles are composed of more than just the virus. The virus is part of larger particles that are made up of water and other materials such as mucus. These larger particles are easily trapped and filtered out by N95 respirators because they are too big to pass through the filter. This is called mechanical filtration. But mechanical filtration is just one of the ways that respirator filters keep particles from passing through the filter. An electrostatic charge also attracts particles to fibers in the filter, where the particles become stuck. In addition, the smallest particles constantly move around (called “Brownian motion”), and are very likely to hit a filter fiber and stick to it.

 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tests respirators using particles that simulate a 0.3 micron diameter because this size particle is most likely to pass through the filter. If worn correctly, the N95 respirator will filter out at least 95% of particles this size. An N95 respirator is more effective at filtering particles that are smaller or larger than 0.3 microns in size.

 

The N95 respirator filter, as is true for other NIOSH-approved respirators, is very effective at protecting people from the virus causing COVID-19. However, it is important for employers and workers to remember that the respirator only provides the expected protection when used correctly. Respirators, when required, must be used as part of a comprehensive, written respiratory protection program that meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.134 including requirements for medical evaluations, training, and fit testing. The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Healthcare also includes requirements for respiratory protection and a Mini Respiratory Protection Program. The Mini Respiratory Protection Program applies to specific circumstances specified under the ETS, generally when workers are not exposed to suspected or confirmed sources of COVID-19 but where respirator use could offer enhanced worker protection.

OSHA admits that the virus is smaller than 0.3 microns (.0003 mm), but frankly, the argument a virus will likely stick to a fiber is not persuasive, even considering Brownian motion. What about the virus after it? Remember that we have 1031 viruses in our bodies at any given moment. They’re everywhere.  Relying on the terms likely and “more effective at filtering particles that are smaller or larger than 0.3 microns in size” just doesn’t work for me anymore, given all of the missteps and lies during the last two years.  Simply OSHA bad writing? Maybe, but the “stick to the fiber scenario” also used to be the rationale that justified using cloth masks.

Of course there are no cites to applicable studies. I can’t find any specific studies on this particular issue. Feel free to send me one.

The more interesting point here is the reference to the extensive training one must have to use N95 masks effectively. Do you really think the training will be offered for everyone to whom the mask is recommended? Will it be free? Will the unvaccinated be able to attend? I think you know the answers.

The teeny weeny caveat about N95 masks

N95 masks

This respirator helps protect against certain particulate contaminants but does not eliminate exposure to or the risk of contracting any disease or infection. Before use, the wearer must read and understand the User Instructions provided as a part of the product packaging. Follow all local regulations. In the U.S., a written respiratory protection program must be implemented meeting all the requirements of OSHA 1910.134, including training, fit testing and medical evaluation.

The N95 masks User Instructions also note:

Biological Particles This respirator can help reduce inhalation exposures to certain airborne biological particles (e.g. mold, Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, etc.) but cannot eliminate the risk of contracting infection, illness or disease. OSHA and other government agencies have not established safe exposure limits for these contaminants.

Scrolling through several articles from mainstream news and the CDC:

Why you should upgrade your mask as the Omicron variant spreads

Omicron means it’s time to switch to N95 masks

Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators

None of them mention that you need training to use N95 masks correctly. Certainly none of them mention the warnings above.

Of course when the fact equivocators read this they will rely on the “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” defense.

The small print about N95 masks.

You paid for cases of N95 masks, like some forgettable asswipe on CNN. You wore them everywhere, you wore them in bed, you wore them when you Kamala-kissed your partner. You still got Covid. Did you take the training to learn how to fit your N95 masks correctly? No? Then catching Covid was your fault.

Indeed, like everything else pandemic, potential failure is baked into the process and the only person who will be held accountable is you. Those who created this mess will continue to chide you for not doing enough and then introduce a new miracle product that you will pay for either from your own pocket or from your tax dollars—dollars that could be used for something, anything else.

More than 150 Comparative Studies and Articles on Mask Ineffectiveness and Harms

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