I recently listened to the 17 March 2021 episode of the Economist podcast. It cited a University of California study stating that the humidity in your mask increases the efficiency in your upper respiratory system.
Those that wore masks had 60% higher rates of asymptomatic infection. That means that mask wearing decreased the severity of Covid-19 if the mask wearer is infected. The masks first line of defense is against droplets shared amongst humans in close proximity. The second line of defense is the buildup of humidity that causes mucus and aids the cilia (really tiny hairs) to be bathed in moisture. This combo of mucus, cilia, and moisture helps to trap viruses and transfer them to the stomach where they are destroyed, rather than letting them embed into the respiratory system. Ever notice that sicknesses like cold and flu appear more in the winter time? That's because the air is drier so our respiratory defenses aren't as fortified.
Masks that fit close and well, like an N95 increased the amount of humidity by 150-200%. Astonishingly, a cotton mask increased the humidity behind the mask by 300%. Does that difference in humidity make a difference in the efficiency of our respiratory systems?
In any case, wearing a proper fitting mask with filtration keeps the dangerous microparticles out of the respiratory system in the first place, rather than relying on humidity to aid one's immunity. Masks without proper filtration, like cotton masks, still allow very small particles through. These very small particles, like the size of a virus, are the ones that lodge deep in your lungs. These are the particles that initiate disease.
Assuming this lab research is correct and applicable to real life, it's another reason to put on a mask.
Breathe healthy, stay safe,
- March 2021
- October 2020
- July 2020