Quite frankly, I’m surprised we weren’t advised weeks ago to wear masks when out in supermarkets, queues etc and certainly it should have been announced that it was compulsory to wear one when we were all advised to go back to work – many people were unable to avoid crowded public transport. But then again, I am surprised at a lot of the way this crisis is being handled if I’m honest! I suspect the reason we weren’t has nothing to do with science and much to do with not having enough PPE for the people for frontliners and carers. It does make me mad.
Anyway, I thought I’d share why I think masks are a good thing. I still think the idea should be only go out if you have to, but if you can’t avoid it, here’s my advice on mask effectiveness. Just because you’re wearing a mask doesn’t negate the need to wash your hands or social distance; that is still the best advice. Also, you need to handle the used masks very carefully, taking them off by the straps/ties well away from anyone else and put them in a sealed plastic bag to be thrown away, or in the closed washing machine ready for washing.
It seems the primary entry point for the virus, researchers found, is the nose. No real surprise there. The virus gets a foothold in the nose, then sneaks down the respiratory tract when breathed into the airways. This would make masks seem a useful thing to use – stop the virus at the point of entry – as long as the mask is actually covering the nose; I’ve seen plenty of examples where it is loose or hardly over the nose at all! Nasal cleansing would also seem a good idea – neti/salt pots, inhaling essential oils as I do – see more on this below.
DROPLETS LAST IN THE AIR FOR 14 MINUTES!
Here’s some research about why masks might help avoid transmission – I have bolded some bits for emphasis:
New research confirms that masking is still one of the most important methods of preventing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. A study published online May 13 in PNAS found that normal human speech emits droplets that can linger in the air up to 14 minutes, which is plenty long enough for them to be inhaled by someone standing nearby. This study suggests that these floating particles could be the primary method of person-to-person transmission of the virus.
The researchers used an intense sheet of laser to measure the size of the droplets emitted during speech that were small enough to remain airborne. They estimated that 1 minute of loud speaking generated at least 1000 droplets capable of carrying the virions that can result in infection. Face masks should go a long way toward blocking these droplets.
That makes quite a case, doesn’t it? That means that it is wise to avoid standing in the same place as someone else did a few minutes before (queues, checkouts, at shop tills etc), being near people for extended periods of time (public transport) and getting in the slipstreams of joggers and cyclists going past you at speed. I would wear a mask in all those situations.
Of course, the PPE issue is a very real and serious one; there just isn’t enough around for everybody. So, buying the usual masks is a no-no in my view. Many clever crafters are making them – just beware they are actually effective and not just ‘pretty’! I shall be making a T shirt mask myself, not being one of life’s crafters! Here’s how to do that and the government’s guidance on masks generally.
Essential Oils to Boost Mask Effectiveness
The other bit of useful info I have come across to do with masks is using essential oils to boost their effectiveness. Some people are using teatree or other anti-viral oils on the mask itself or within the layers, so anything they do breathe in through the mask inadvertently can be killed or at least hopefully weakened before they inhale it. There’s no guarantee with this but it seems a sensible approach to me.
As you know, I have been using essential oils throughout for this very reason. I carry little bottles of them with me when I go out and inhale them frequently. It makes sense to put some on any mask you’re using too. Some people are using a coffee filter paper in between layers with essential oils on, or even a sheet or two of folded kitchen towel or loo paper. I think this is a good idea.
Here’s the advice from NHR Essential Oils, for example:
Coronavirus Covod-19 and organic essential oilsAny recommendations here are at your own risk and for you to evaluate your self and take full responsibility for their effectiveness we are not giving any guarantees, basic hygiene and handwashing is the most important. To be fully protected you will need full-face double filter rubber masks, as worn with Hazmat suits in hospital, but organic essential oils below can add a very useful additional layer of protection which adds to a simple paper mask.We have been having lots of enquiries about the antiviral properties of organic essential oils, and advice on what might help with the Coronavirus Covod-19, especially when travelling on planes and trains and public transport etcThe most effective idea we have come across from some of our customer’s recommendations is:To put 5-10 drops of organic Tea Tree essential oil onto your face mask every few hours or twice a day. Other Essential oils that have strong antiviral properties are Organic Eucalyptus, Organic Oregano, Organic Sage, Organic Thyme and Organic Manuka essential oils. These will add the traditional antiviral properties of organic essential oils to the lining of the mouth lungs and throat when you breathe them in through the N95 mask.Please be aware of sensible use of essential oils and to rotate use of oils and give the body a day or two breaks between using oils, so as not to overload one’s system. Always get advice from a professional practitioner. See research papers below on anti-viral nature of Tea Tree essential oils.
Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture.
Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on Influenza virus A/PR/8: study on the mechanism of action.Tea Tree Oil Tea tree oil is a traditional medicine used by indigenous Australians and has been shown to have excellent activity against a range of bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), yeasts, and herpes simplex virus. From: Tropical Dermatology (Second Edition), 2017