Health Hazard

From Santa Barbara Daily News, 1918:

My masks definitely are a health hazard. Does anybody here really throw away the single use ones after every use? Or wash the cloth ones after every use?

Also, I don’t understand how mask-wearing can co-exist with the idea of not touching your face too much. Here’s how I use my single-use mask:

I put it on to walk from the entrance of my building to my office.

Take it off.

Work for 5 minutes, remember I need to say something to the secretary, grab a mask (which might be the one still lying on the desk since last week), put it on, go talk to the secretary.

Take it off.

Somebody knocks on the door, comes in, I grab the mask put it on. The person says, “hi, I’m in the office if you need me.” Leaves.

Take it off.

Work for a while, decide I need to go to the library / the bathroom / the lab, etc, put it on, leave the building, begin to sweat profusely under the mask, mixing makeup with sweat, return back to the office.

Take it off.

This repeats about 40 times until I’m ready to leave. I put it on, walk to my car, get in, toss it on the car seat, drive to the preschool. Put it on, get out of the car, start sweating again like a bastard because it’s extremely hot and humid, pick up Klara, go back to the car.

Take it off and if I’m feeling extremely virtuous, I might not reuse it the next day.

Now, can anybody explain what important health purpose I’m serving with this? Am I supposed to throw them away every time I take a trip to the bathroom? Does anybody really do that? Does the majority do that?

31 thoughts on “Health Hazard”

  1. // Now, can anybody explain what important health purpose I’m serving with this?


    If a person is infected, putting on a mask while interacting with others protects those others from Covid. If the other, not infected person is the only one who wears a mask, his chances to get covid become lower, but not significantly.

    That’s why we’re thinking of buying a car since my mother is afraid to take a bus in which people refuse to wear masks correctly. Public transportation, which I’ve always supported and used, has become a health hazard, unfortunately.

    My mother does wash her mask after every time / every day, and I change them every day. No health hazard.


  2. OT: Rod put a post with Tweets of what happened in Portland. All those tweets are worth reading:

    “With the streets in downtown Portland occupied by BLM & antifa rioters, a man crashed his car. The mob pulled him out & beat him senseless in front of the passenger. He’s bleeding & unconscious. No police.”

    In the same post, Rod proves my prediction of riots influencing business owners are correct:

    // a new CNN poll shows that the Trump-Biden race has significantly narrowed
    Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%.

    The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide). //


    1. I talked to a public school teacher who is protesting in Portland. He says it’s all lies, they only “destroyed a little property,” everything is fine. The conversation stalled because he got really obsessed with me being a college professor and just couldn’t get over the resentment.


  3. Btw, Andy Ngo on Twitter, whose tweets Rod put in his post, has many tweets on the riots, if you’re interested.

    Turns out he is a journalist who was attacked by Antifa in 2019 and proceeded to write “a deeply researched and reported account of the group’s history and tactics.”


  4. As far as Covid goes, leaving a mask in a hot car for a half hour or more kills viruses effectively. I suspected this was true and I confirmed it with my primary care physician. This is the only way most people have of sterilizing a mask.


    1. This is what I do with mine– leave it on the dashboard. Summer in FL the car interior easily reaches 130 degrees after less than an hour parked in the sun. If that doesn’t kill germs, I don’t know what washing would do…


  5. To be honest, the only reason I don’t reuse masks at work (which is extremely unhygienic when you work in a biohazard lab) is because they allow us one per day.

    We’re still supposed to reuse them for a week. No one in my lab does, but there are supervisors in other labs who actively hide the box of masks from their staff. God forbid your mask should tear, or something spills on it. I’m sure enforcement of the “use this for a week” guideline is enforced differently throughout the hospital. (My own supervisor has a hell of a lot more common sense.)

    What really gets me is that the exact wording is “one mask will be provided for you per day, but we ask that you consider reusing it for up to seven days.” And then it goes on to say that your mask should be discarded after the end of your shift (or after spills, contact with known or suspected positive patients, etc.) no matter what. Because these are only single-use masks that are meant to be worn for two hours or less at a time and cannot be disinfected without compromising the mask material.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. At first, there wasn’t a shortage right that second, but the hospital needed time to get its stores up to par.

        Then there were the patients and staff who kept taking handfuls of masks.

        Then there were the staff who started stealing PPE — you name it, they wanted it. Masks, booties, hair thingies, gloves, etc.

        Then there were the managers who went way overboard (like at the offsite lab). They became obsessed that people were stealing masks and started hiding them.

        Nowadays, it’s just that they never changed their initial policy.


  6. Does anybody here really throw away the single use ones after every use? Or wash the cloth ones after every use?
    I have multiple cloth masks, so I’m not washing one mask every day. I assume you drop your mask inside a plastic bag only used for the mask every time you take it off to put it back on again. Those can be washed and air dried as well.

    I don’t go to the gym anymore, but my brother does (and has multiple mask at the gym selfies.) And he sweats profusely, in t-shirt drenching workouts.

    I don’t wear makeup. If I did, I’d focus most of it on my eyes and eyebrows, put on a dry lipstain if that, and use all the primer and setting spray with a matte foundation. I’m not going to do a full instagram beat.
    Did you get the ones with the clear windows?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll either wash my mask when I wash my hands as I come indoors or pour disinfectant alcohol on it. I also have some N95s for when I’m likely to be in a crowded space with unmasked people, and the box said they’re fine to reuse if I let them sit around for 5 days, and that they can be low-temp steamed (so colander over boiling pot but not pressure cooker) if I need a quicker turnaround.

      Fomite transmission turned out to be far rarer than we initially thought, so touching your face isn’t that much of a problem.


    2. I’m hoping this is a sarcastic comment because nobody who knows me in any way can possibly suspect me of having a separate plastic bag for the face mask.

      I feel very misunderstood. :-)))

      But yeah, never occurred to me.


      1. “nobody who knows me in any way can possibly suspect me of having a separate plastic bag for the face mask”

        Too bad you aren’t a man. Then you could just tuck it in your shirt pocket until you wanted to put it back on.


  7. Respectfully, you’re doing it wrong. It would be best for you to get a small spray bottle filled with alcohol that is of a concentration above 70% – either ethanol or isopropyl alcohol will do – and lightly spray the outside of the mask when you’ve taken it off. You may also spray the elastic straps, and your fingers.

    The reason that 70% alcohol works is because the virus is strongly affected by dehydration.

    Also, the information above about a hot car destroying the virus isn’t quite right. If the virus is in air, a certain temperature will denature/destroy it. If the virus is mixed in with oily or protein based surfaces etc even in a saliva sample, then the temperature generally has to be higher in order to be effective.

    To illustrate, clothing contaminated with the virus is washed with a detergent and in water above 65 degrees celcius for 15 minutes. Cooler water requires longer washing.


    1. I’m a slob, not an idiot. :-))) I know I’m doing it wrong.

      But hey, you should see the ones our construction workers are using. Those look really hardcore.


    2. And guess what has been extremely hard to find since March. Isopropyl alcohol, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes…🙃🙃🙃🙃 It’s such a pain in my ass when it comes to my phone.

      I use the washing machine at the hottest temperature for the masks. Energy efficient dryers reach 135 degrees Farhenheit, so ymmv. If the masks are white, I bleach them.


    3. “Respectfully, you’re doing it wrong. It would be best for you to get a small spray bottle filled with alcohol that is of a concentration above 70% – either ethanol or isopropyl alcohol will do – and lightly spray the outside of the mask when you’ve taken it off. You may also spray the elastic straps, and your fingers.”

      -Oh dear god, no. Alcohol shrinks the polypropylene and changes the structure of the mask, making it far less effective. For cloth masks, this is perfectly fine, but not for the single-use masks Clarissa is talking about.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Respectfully Pen, paper masks should be completely avoided and no attempt made to clean them. I assumed that a group as sophisticated as those on this page would realise that any wetting of paper masks would destroy them.

        For regular polymer multi layered masks, I must insist. A spray – not a soaking – using alcohol will not particularly reduce the effectiveness of the mask. If you wish to further disagree, then we should continue the discussion by citing evidence and studies.

        Clarissa: Apologies, it was late when I typed that.

        Shakti: If I might suggest, some methylated spirits are in fact unadulterated, meaning that the product is an unrefined distillate that is contaminated only by the usual non-ethanol products of fermentation, such as aliphatic esters, higher order alcohols etc. Such a methylated spirit type product may be substituted for isopropyl alcohol. Hardware store attendants should supply you with the unadulterated, clear methylated spirit type product if asked specifically for it, since it is often kept behind the counter, especially in areas where itinerant populations may drink it.

        In addition, Ethanol BP (ethanol at a concentration of 96%) is commonly available at pharmacies and may be purchased in small quantities by asking the pharmacist nicely.


        1. What made you think I was talking about paper masks? Store-bought surgical masks are not paper.

          Polymer multi-layered masks are surgical masks. They are not made of paper, but of polypropylene. This is what is used in hospitals. And they cannot be sterilized with alcohol because it shrinks the middle filtration layer and makes it far less effective.

          They are also specifically meant to be worn for two to four hours, because they do start to wear very quickly — they are, after all, disposable, even though they are made of polypropylene, you’d replace your single-use mask after every patient contact, but that’s not possible right now.

          For these masks, as well as store-bought medical-grade masks (again, single-use and disposable, all made of polypropylene, not paper), you cannot disinfect effectively. They’re not meant to be disinfected — they are single-use only. Concentrated UV would be a far preferable method, but it can weaken the elastic in the ear loops.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Pen, when I wrote the sentence “If you wish to further disagree, then we should continue the discussion by citing evidence and studies”, I meant it.


            1. Three-layer surgical masks are made of melt-blown polypropylene. Filtration by polypropylene is affected by humidity:

              Click to access A06060106.pdf

              Part of why this happens has to do with how the mask itself works. The middle filtration layer depends on a static charge to “catch” molecules.

              Exposing the filtration layer to polar molecules lowers the static charge, and hence lowers the efficiency of the mask:


              And now, to apply an ethanol treatment:


              In a hospital setting, especially, this is an unacceptable drop in efficacy.

              Here is more information on why this happens, albeit with N95 masks. The general information is the same, though, as these are made of the same materials (treated differently to give different base efficacy):

              Click to access 2020.04.12.20059709v1.full.pdf

              Here is a review that contains a chart detailing some of the research done on mask efficacy post-sterilization:


              And an Oregon Health and Science presentation that actually sums up CDC advice for health care professions quite well:

              Click to access Proposed%20Solution%20for%20face%20mask%20reuse_Final%20%28web%29.pdf

              So yes, according to current research, single-use surgical masks should not be sprayed with alcohol or any other disinfecting spray. Since disinfectants are polar, they “steal” the charge and cause changes in the polypropylene that prevent it from regaining the lost charge. This causes a decrease in filtration efficacy. There are currently no approved sterilization techniques for these single-use polypropylene surgical masks.

              I’ve got more, too, and so does our occupational medicine department, who have also been busy doing their own sterilization research.


  8. Rod wrote a very nice post “The Problem With ‘Nice White Parents’” about school segregation and liberal parents as a reaction to a NYT five-part podcast serial with the same title. Yes, I know, NYT, but Rod was acquainted with work of the reporter of the series before, and his expectation of encountering important insights was not disappointed.

    If you don’t want to read the entire long post, the most interesting part comes towards the end starting with this sentence:

    “CJW talks about a charter school that opened in the basement of I.S. 293 (where the old Brooklyn Global Studies school was). It’s part of a chain called Success Academies.”

    Do you think a model of Success Academies may truly help disadvantaged students? It seems to be working at that school.


    1. I stopped reading after this: “So you could fill an elementary school auditorium with gifted program parents, or, as we used to say the district, gifted parents, as if somehow the —
      Chana Joffe-Walt
      The giftedness got passed up toward them?”

      Well, erm, of course, the giftedness was passed through the parents. I went to a Soviet school. That’s worse than no school at all. So did my sister and my husband. How did we become who we are, then? Hmm, what a mystery.

      I didn’t like the post (and definitely am not interested in the podcast) because it’s very parochial in it’s uniquely American obsessions.

      Klara’s best friend’s parents are African. That she’ll be at the top of any gifted class is a given. The parents are very brilliant people and the kid simply has no choice. There’s nothing any school can do for a kid of any race to get him to the level of that girl if the parents aren’t in the genius category like these ones.

      Life is unfair. Some people get the IQ, others have great teeth (I really envy those lucky bastards), others are beautiful, etc. Everybody has gotten over this except for Americans who want to be able to buy what’s not for sale. I’ve seen graduates of those expensive private schools and… wasted $45,000 per year is all I can say.


      1. // I stopped reading after this: “So you could fill an elementary school auditorium with gifted program parents,

        Pity you didn’t read the bit towards the end starting with “CJW talks about a charter school that opened in the basement of”. Rod rambles for a long time, but the end of Rod’s article is when things do get interesting. I also quoted a part of it yesterday in this post (in the second quote).

        Most people of any color are not in the genius category like the girl you described. I am not talking about them but about the great majority of usual students. Wouldn’t you agree that an intellectually average student from a middle-class white family will be enrolled in those gifted programs, while a student with average abilities from a poor black family practically won’t have a chance to be accepted there?

        Sure, there is a great genetic component to intelligence, but environment may either nurture it or work against development, and most people are born average. I am sure many many students in poor schools are not less smart than me and my coworkers, yet we are middle-class professionals and they – won’t be.

        I asked how to help usual kids – and even some talented kids – who come from poor families and have education gaps, whether Success Academies is the answer. You yourself are proud of your work helping minority poor first-generation students to succeed, yet some conservatives would interpret your answer as “those students are stupid, nothing to see here.”

        // I’ve seen graduates of those expensive private schools and… wasted $45,000 per year is all I can say.

        A good school with discipline and not too big classes does make a difference for average kids.

        However, there surely are cheaper options than $45,000 per year. That is ridiculous.

        My interest was in improving public schools for everyone, not in discussing schools for super-rich.


  9. To invite people to join the discussion, I’ll put 2 best quotes from the article.

    The first raises the question of what is meant by integration and the different meanings minority parents and white liberals assign to this concept.

    The second describes a model of a miraculously successfully integrated school to which both middle-class white parents and poor black parents send their kids, and all kids – including from poor families – do succeed.


    Those five years [in the 60ies] were a battle between the Board of Education’s definition of integration and the actual integration that black parents wanted. For black parents, integration was about safe schools for their children, with qualified teachers and functioning toilets, a full day of school. For them, integration was a remedy for injustice. The Board of Ed, though, took that definition and retooled it. Integration wasn’t a means to an end. It was about racial harmony and diversity. The Board spun integration into a virtue that white parents could feel good about. And their side triumphed. That’s the definition of integration that stuck, that’s still with us today.


    It’s part of a chain called Success Academies. Its model is highly regimented and highly disciplined. Success Academy Cobble Hill, as this branch is called, is one-quarter white, and, in CJW’s view, limits the power of white parents. How does it do that? “By limiting the power of all parents,” she says.

    Success Academy Cobble Hill doesn’t really want parents to get involved in the running of the school. In fact, they issue parents report cards on how well they are participating in supporting their kid’s education. If kids act up, they’re suspended, no matter what their race.

    CJW talks to a white mom from the neighborhood who sends her kids to Success:

    ” … Success was head and above any school I’d seen, just the level of excellence. And yeah, nothing matched it. The test scores — almost every parent I spoke with said they were initially drawn to Success Academy because of the excellent test scores. … Success Academy students perform twice as well on state tests as regular New York City public school kids. The vast majority of Success kids pass the tests, 95%, 97%. In your average city public schools, it’s less than half. And even more impressive, to me at least, is that the kids at Success are doing well on tests no matter if they’re poor, or rich, or Black, or Latino, or Asian, or white. This is the problem that decades of public education reforms have tried to address, the achievement gap. Success Academy was pulling off, not only an integrated school, but an equal integrated school that was closing the achievement gap.”

    [CJW says:] “The way Success achieves equality though, some things give me pause.”

    Like what? The military-like discipline there. CJW says:

    “I suspected that the strict classroom control was partly what made white parents feel comfortable at Success Academy. I’m speculating here. None of the white parents I spoke with told me they chose Success because the school polices Black and brown students so well. And I don’t believe this is a conscious thought for anyone. But …”

    Success Academies is thoroughly egalitarian in how it runs its schools, and again, is highly disciplined. Yet liberals like CJW complain, because (I think) they have a problem with authority.

    I bet those poor black and Latino kids in those crummy Dallas schools would do really well in a Success Academy model, with strict discipline, because it compensates for the lack of discipline at home.


  10. I suspect Success Academy which is a publicly funded, lottery acceptance charter school succeeds because of its culture of high expectations and because it is not beholden to teachers unions or curriculum limitations of the NYC Department of Education. It seems to have a lot in common with K atherine Birbalsingh’s Michaela school in England.


  11. I was so excited about the Success Academy Charter Schools which nurture poor minority students to outperform students from rich private schools that I decided to discover the magical recipe and started reading “How The Other Half Learns: Equality, Excellence, and the Battle Over School Choice” by Robert Pondiscio. Turns out “а ларчик просто открывался”. The quote from the chapter describing the first meeting between parents of potential students and school officials tells it all.

    (Btw, I imagined myself as a NY teacher and didn’t see how I would’ve been able to pick a child up at 12:30, or even at 3:45. The only solution would’ve been to pay for babysitting. This school has no after-school and doesn’t offer buses.)


    The meeting lasts just under an hour, but it opens a portal into the model and culture that explains in no small part the network’s consistent results across its schools. Suddenly it all makes sense: The common criticism leveled at Moskowitz and her schools is that they cherry-pick students, attracting bright children and shedding the poorly behaved and hardest to teach. This misses the mark entirely. Success Academy is cherry-picking parents. Parents who are not put off by uniforms, homework, reading logs, and constant demands on their time, but who view those things as evidence that here, at last, is a school that has its act together. Parents who are not upset by tight discipline and suspensions but who are grateful for them, viewing Success Academy as a safe haven from disorderly streets and schools. Charter schools cannot screen parents to ensure culture fit, but the last hour in the auditorium is a close proxy for such an effort, galvanizing disciples and warning off the indifferent and uncommitted. At the same time, there is something undeniably exclusionary about it. If you don’t have the resources to get your child to school by 7:30 and pick her up at 3:45—at 12:30 on Wednesdays—Success Academy is not for you. Literally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many of the parents of poor performing students in NYC don’t work.

      Undeniably this would be hard on working parents.

      Even so NYC charter schools have tens of thousands of black and Hispanic students on wait lists. Not sure how many on Success’s. Another thing is they don’t bring new kids in after a certain point.


    2. Well, of course.

      There’s no school or education system that can substitute parents. It sucks, it really does that so much in life – almost everything, in fact – depends on things outside of your control. The parents, the genes. It’s very hard to accept. But do you know what makes it easier to accept? Realizing that in life, you pay it forward. You can control much of it for your kids. That’s the good part.


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