Saturday, July 4, 2020

Wearing a cloth mask? Don't be a Covidiot, do it right - Most do it wrong

I am seeing a lot of bad advice being given out by Covidiots of late, suggesting that all people need to do is simply put on a mask when entering a store and then to take it off when leaving.  Simple minds like simple solutions, but as with many things in life there is a lot more to it. 

With places like Ottawa now moving to requiring the wearing of cloth masks indoors it is vital that people know how to properly wear, remove and clean their masks.  If people wish to keep both themselves as well as family and household members safe then this information is vital.  

Unfortunatlely it's also complicated, but then science is rarely easy.  Pathogens are both ubquitous and dangerous, especially with the emergence of drug resistant bacterial.  A University of Toronto professor and epidemiologist was recently quoted in a CBC news story as saying he boils his masks after 2 hours of use, and there is good reason for that.

It is simple common sense that placing a cloth mask over your mouth and nose is going to result in the material becoming warm and moist, making it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.  A respitory infection resulting from inproperly using/cleaning a cloth mask could be worse than Covid for some people.  

I myself have not yet worn a mask when shopping, I've had some training in the use of PPE and I've always known it's not as simple as the Covidiots are suggesting.  I see them at the grocery store every week, they pull a cloth mask out of a pocket when going in.  In the store they're tugging and pulling at it, often it doesn't even cover the nose, some pull them down when talking.  And then when they step outside again the mask is removed, scrunched up and put back into a pocket.  

Here are the procedures being put out by the World Health Orginization.  Based on my own observations it seems to me the overwhelming majority of people wearing masks are the real Covidiots, putting themselves and their family members at potential risk.  

  • Remove the mask without touching the front of the mask, do not touch the eyes or mouth after mask removal. Either discard the mask or place it in a sealable bag where it is kept until it can be washed and cleaned. Perform hand hygiene immediately afterwards.
  • Non-medical masks should be washed frequently and handled carefully, so as not to contaminate other items.
  • Clothing fabrics used to make masks should be checked for the highest permitted washing temperature. If instructions for washing are indicated on the clothing label, verify if washing in warm or hot water is tolerated. Select washable fabrics that can be washed. Wash in warm hot water, 60°C, with soap or laundry detergent. Non-woven polypropylene (PP) spunbond may be washed at high temperatures, up to 125°C.(72)
  • Natural fibres may resist high temperature washes and ironing. Wash the mask delicately (without too much friction, stretching or wringing) if nonwoven materials (e.g. spunbond) are used. The combination of non-woven PP spunbond and cotton can tolerate high temperatures; masks made of these combinations may be steamed or boiled. 
  • Where hot water is not available, wash mask with soap/detergent at room temperature water, followed by either i) boiling mask for one minute OR ii) soak mask in 0.1% chlorine for one minute then thoroughly rinse mask with room temperature water, to avoid any toxic residual of chlorine. 

I imagine most people don't know what type of material their mask is made of, or the maximum temperature it can be washed at.  And I highly doubt people are either boiling their masks or using chorine when hot water isn't available.  I've seen suggestions to not wear one while driving, but where are you going to wash you hands after stepping outside of the grocery store?  It is so easy to inadvertenly rub or wipe one's eyes, nose or mouth, it's a reflex action people do multiple times a day without even being aware of it.  

Anyway, if you're going to wear a mask or are forced to, then try not to be a Covidiot, keep yourself and the people around you safe.  


Lorne said...

Some very useful reminders here, Thanks. It amazes me when I see television coverage of events; so often people don't have their masks covering their nose, or they take off the mask to shout into the microphone or, as you mention, they constantly touch their face covering.

I guess learning a new thing is hard for many people.

Gordie Canuk said...

Thanks for reading Lorne, I read your blog posting about heading into you I live well outside of the GTA, I'm 1.5 to 2 hours from the downtown (I'm east).

My biggest concern with those wearing masks, especially for those who are either vulnerable or around others who that complacency can set in. Masks are not a replacement for keeping distance and hand washing. Hand washing, from what I'm reading, is vital after removing the mask, and given that there isn't always a sink and soap handy outside of places like pharmacies and grocery stores, those wearing masks might do well to carry hand sanitizer with them.

I was just in the grocery store on Sunday evening, I was waiting for a lady in the bread aisle who was wearing what looked like a medical mask, the kind with folded material. She was trying to read the expiry date but was having trouble (she wore glasses), so she pulled the mask down then examined the tag and then returned it to the shelf and picked up another, checked and put it in her cart....and then proceded shopping with the mask below her nose. I spoke with here casually and pleasantly but didn't say anything as I myself (like 90% of the patrons and all the staff) wasn't wearing a mask and it didn't seem appropriate to me to offer advice when I'm not wearing one myself.

Later on my way into work I stopped at Tim Horton's. At the drive thru the young man handling my order and taking my payment was wearing a mask (his employer requires it) but it wasn't covering his nose, there were 2 other employees I could see, one wearing it properly the other with the nose also exposed. I remarked that he had my sympathy, having to wear the mask...he complained how hot and uncomfortable it is to wear all shift long. I remarked about it not covering his nose, adding "not that I care"....and that I wouldn't want to have to wear one for hours on end. I then told him to be careful when removing it, to do it by the loops and then to wash his hands immediately because that warm moist cloth could have goodness knows what on it besides just SARS-Cov-2....this world is full of pathogens....he thanked me warmly.....

Anyway....I hope you and your wife are keeping safe.