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Face mask humidity may provide additional protection from COVID-19




February 15, 2021

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Disclosure: Bucks, Courtney and Rogers are NIH employees.

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Humidity generated inside the face mask may provide additional protection against COVID-19, according to NIH researchers.

“We have shown that face masks significantly increase the effective humidity of inhaled air, thereby promoting hydration of the respiratory epithelium, which is known to be beneficial to the immune system,” said NIH researchers. I am. Joseph M. Courtney, PhD, And Adrian Bucks,PhD, Written in Biophysics Journal.. “Increased inspiratory humidity can be an alternative explanation for the currently established association between wearing a mask and reducing the severity of the disease.”

NIH breathing box
The humidity created inside the face mask provides additional protection against COVID-19.
Credits: National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease, NIH

Courtney and Bax tested N95, 3-layer disposable, 2-layer cotton polyester, and thick cotton masks. They let volunteers breathe into a sealed steel box to test the effects of humidity on the virus. Humidity can limit the spread of the virus to the lungs by affecting mucous fimbria clearance. This is a mechanism that removes mucus and the harmful particles it contains. NIH said in a press release.

The researchers made measurements at three temperatures, from 46 ° F to 98 ° F.When volunteering I was wearing a mask, The accumulation of humidity in the box has been significantly reduced. All four masks tested increased the humidity level of the intake air to varying degrees. At low temperatures, the mask’s humidifying effect increased, and thick cotton masks showed the highest humidity levels at all temperatures. “About twice as much as a surgical mask,” writes Courtney and Bax.

“Even as more people are vaccinated nationwide, we need to be careful to play our part in preventing the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.” Griffin P. Rogers, MD, MACP, The person who led the NIH National Institute for Diabetes, Gastroenterology and Kidney Disease, who supported the study, said in a press release. “This study shows the importance of wearing a mask as a simple and effective way to protect people around us and protect ourselves from respiratory infections, especially during the winter months when we are more susceptible to these viruses. I support. “

CDC researchers have recently been Wear two masks for added protection From SARS-CoV-2, you can change the surgical mask by tying an ear loop near the edge of the mask and pushing in excess material.


Press release

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