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The Science Behind: Wearing A Mask

Cover- Sara Chaudhari

As coronavirus cases climb higher and higher, health officials state that this virus is hard to contain. The COVID-19 is easily spreadable through contact and endangers anyone around the contaminated person.

But if we wear masks we can't breathe germs onto each other, right?

That's what the government is saying... but how do masks even work? How does a piece of cloth (usually) protect us (to a large extent) from a killer virus?

Allow me to explain...

In very basic words, when you breathe, sneeze, or cough, tiny particles fly out of your body and onto nearby surfaces. These particles could make someone sick. When you wear a mask, these particles are contained, therefore reducing the risk of people around you getting sick.

That's the fundamentals, but let's dig deeper, shall we?

As a kid, one of the most intriguing things in life was seeing your breath during the cold weather. Ah! The good old days. But that's not what this is about! According to Forbes, "First, when you breathe out in the cold, the gases you exhaled begin to come into contact with the environment, causing them to rapidly cool. When water vapor cools below a certain threshold—the dew point—it changes phase from gas to liquid, enabling you to see it. But the second reason is vital for understanding viral transmission: water droplets enable the transmission of virus particles from one person to another."

This means that through water, germs from one person's body could be transmitted into yours!

Fortunately, your body is a fighter. When a virus tries to hijack your cells, your body tries to kill it. A popular myth is that if you are exposed to a virus once, BOOM, you're sick. Instead, the intensity of your illness depends on the total time you were exposed. It all comes down to the number of virus particles that your body came in contact with.

This is why social distancing works!

That concept also works with masks. It reduces the number of bacteria transmitted through one's breath.

In a perfect world, masks would completely prevent the virus, stopping 100% transmission. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world, and wearing a mask means there's still a chance of getting sick.

Particles come in different shapes, and sizes. As do masks. Some masks like the N95 respirator masks successfully blocks 95% of harmful particles. Single-layer cloth masks, which are made of the same fabric as most t-shirts block less than 10% of germs. Tightly-woven cloth masks block almost 80%

Even though putting on masks doesn't guarantee complete safety, it does lower the chances of infection.

Wearing a mask can save YOUR life! And not only you but the people around you, too!

Since it is difficult to identify who has COVID and who doesn't, wearing a mask can be the difference between life and death.

So wear a mask!

Yes, it annoying and itchy and suffocating, but it is helping you and the people around you.

Until next time...

Stay Curious (and wear a mask!) ;)




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