Wearing A Sweaty Cloth Mask Could Cause Viruses To Thrive
We've had a few sweltering days in central New York, and the result has not been pretty for those wearing a cloth face mask to comply with COVID-19 protocol.
Unfortunately, wearing a face mask is not going away anytime soon because of coronavirus. We need to use one whenever we're in public. I know it makes it hard to breathe, especially while shopping or walking on a trail. It's also uncomfortable when the cloth mask gets damp from our warm breath or soaked from sweating, and now it turns out it could also be bad for our health.
FastCompany reports on a 2015 study that found that moisture retention in masks can create the conditions for bacteria and viruses to thrive. It's even worse if you wear the same mask multiple times before washing it.
When damp, masks become less effective at preventing the spread of viruses, which is why some states, such as Pennsylvania, explicitly say masks should not be worn when wet from spit or mucus. [FastCompany]
Continuing to wear a wet cloth mask can also cause shortness of breath as cool air cannot reach our lungs. When going out in public, bring several face covers to switch out as needed.
The CDC says cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. They suggest using regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting, then put in the dryer using the highest heat setting or air dry in direct sunlight.
I know it's a lot to get used to, but we have to do it to keep ourselves healthy while complying with the new COVID-19 Mask Laws.