What do you suppose would get collected on your face mask after you have used it for hours and hours upon end? There are many medical experts who have claimed that prolonged mask use poses no adverse health risks as long as they are cleaned regularly or you use a new face covering.
However, there is now a group of Florida parents who are concerned about the amount of time that their children have been required to wear face masks at school, and they recently discovered that these face masks actually can catch a whole host of bacteria, including some that could be classified as “dangerous pathogens.”
The Gainesville, FL Experiment
The Gainesville parents sent six of the recently worn masks to the University of Florida for further research. Scientists at this university discovered that the face masks collect a litany of dangerous bacteria, including many that could cause dangerous illnesses.
The parents decided to have the face masks tested because they were concerned about the potential of contaminants on masks and simply because of the fact that their children were forced to wear those masks for eight hours per day at school. Moreover, the children were taking them on and off, going to the bathroom with them, and a whole host of other things as well.
“We as parents need to know what we are putting on the faces of our children each day. Yes, masks provide some safety for our kids, but they also provide a warm and moist environment for bacteria to grow,” Gainesville parent Amanda Donoho told Rational Ground.
These tests were conducted by the University of Florida’s Mass Spectrometry Research and Education Center, and they discovered that five of the six masks contained a whole ecosystem of bacteria and three of these masks were contaminated with “dangerous bacteria that could cause pathogens to flourish and cause pneumonia as well.”
These 11 dangerous pathogens were responsible for diseases such as the following: Pneumonia, Meningitis and Sepsis, Tuberculosis, E. coli Food Poisoning, Lyme Disease, Diphtheria, and Urinary Tract Infections.
Moreover, half of these masks had been contaminated with one or more strains of bacteria that can cause pneumonia; one-third were contaminated with meningitis; and another third were infected with pathogens that were resistant to antibiotics. This is in addition to the fact that less dangerous pathogens were found, including those that could cause ulcers, acne, yeast infections, periodontal disease, strep throat, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and many more.
Interestingly enough, all of the masks that had been tested were either brand new or they had been recently washed. They had been worn by children from the ages of 6-11 who had been attending school in-person, but there was one mask that had been worn by an adult. The researchers utilized unworn masks and a T-shirt that one of the children had been wearing as the control group.
“We didn’t find any pathogens on the control group,” the Rational Ground science group concluded.
What are the doctors saying?
Dr. Patrick Grant is a microbiologist affiliated with Florida Atlantic University, and he said last year that these unwashed face masks can indeed accumulate a harmful amount of bacteria. “It’s very common for these kids to eat and then put our mask back on. If we are even sweating just a little bit, we are creating a really nice soup for this bacteria to flourish,” Grant said.
Of course, some of Dr. Grant’s colleagues disagreed with him. Infectious disease specialist, Dr. Rossana Rosa, said that the risk of acquiring pneumonia through these masks is nonexistent.
“The way that these bacteria tend to develop would be through aspirating, or breathing in, the contents into your lungs. So, in terms of wearing a mask, you will breath in those respiratory droplets, but those types of droplets are not the type that you can breath back in and bacterial pneumonia,” she said. “Ideally, if you have phlegm, you should just find a way to spit it out and not into your mask. That way, you will breath in large amounts of mucus or saliva into your lungs, and you will not have a risk of developing bacterial pneumonia.”
However, one of the things that is less clear would be in just how the transmission risk develops when school children are taking their masks off and then putting them back on continuously throughout the school day. Thus, with the accumulation of harmful bacteria, the risk of these children getting sick would theoretically increase as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their latest guidelines that recommended students should continue to wear their masks through the 2020-2021 school year. Of course, most schools are now in the middle of summer, but this still goes to show you that these masks were not as safe as everyone thought.
What do you think?