For the most part, I’ve liked Tucker Carlson’s coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak.  He’s been good about keeping the focus on China and criticizing other media sources that downplayed the outbreak because… racism.

But Tucker is a journalist and gets stuff wrong too.  When he does, I’m going to call him out.

Sorry, but the CDC is right.

My buddy sent me this picture he took from Publix today.

You know what that guy’s respirator is protecting him from?

Fuck.  All.  Nothing.

I saw something similar at Kroger the other day.  A woman was wearing a cartridge respirator, with a huge gap above her nose and under her chin.  She bought one or found one that was the wrong size and didn’t know any better, so wore it.

I saw another guy in an N95 mask over a beard.  He was wearing his N95 mask on top of a beard.

A respirator that doesn’t seal is useless.  Trust me, I know.  I’ve had to wear respirators for jobs in the oil and gas, chemical, and defense industries.

I’ve gone through periodic fit testing.  Fit testing is a real thing.  Here is a video on fit testing from the department of labor.

How many of these people wearing N95 masks or respirators have gone through fit testing?  Almost none would be my guess

Now let’s talk about the Coronavirus.  It’s a big virus at 120 nanometers in diameter.  N95 masks are NIOSH rated to stop 95% of particles 0.3 Microns or 300 nanometers in diameter.  So if there is virus just floating around in the air, even an N95 won’t do anything for you.

So who are masks good for?

Assuming that they are properly fitted, medical staff and people who are in close proximity to Coronavirus patients.  Those people who are sneezing and coughing and expectorating an aerosolized mist of saliva and mucus filled with virus.  Then masks will help block a health care worker from inhaling that virus mist.

The person I saw driving in their car with the windows up, wearing a mask wasn’t protecting himself from anything.

So what about all the Asian people wearing examination masks, the kind your dental hygenist wears?

They are not healthy people trying to stop themselves from getting sick, they are sick people who as a courtesy are wearing the mask so they do not spray their virus mist onto other people.

This is why your dental hygenist wears a mask.  Not to stop from catching something from you, but to stop her from coughing directly into your open mouth while you lie there getting your teeth cleaned.

The woman at the nail salon will wear one to stop from inhaling fingernail dust.  Some people, especially in Japan, will wear them for seasonal allergies, and they are useful (when you can get them cheap) for when you using a sander because they will filter out big particles like coarse dust and pollen, but nothing in the micron or sub-micron size.

For a healthcare worker, they are better than nothing to stop the spray of spit from a patient to coughs into their face at point plant range during a swab, but that’s what they are effective against, chunky particles like sneeze spray.  And only marginally at that.

Now let’s talk about gloves.

I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen wearing gloves when they get out of their car, go through the grocery store, touch the credit card PIN pad, then back out to their car, and drive away in the same gloves.

Those gloves are contaminated.  They are carrying everything everyone who touched that PIN pad and shopping cart before them on their gloves and transferred that to their steering wheel and groceries.

The gloves at that point are useless.  Of course, these people do not practice proper glove removal procedures to avoid contamination.

This is also a problem with the masks.  Even with a properly fitted and sealed mask, improper removal and disposal exposes the user to the virus.

So yes, people who are not properly trained and fitted, who do not practice proper mask and glove procedure might as well be wearing nothing.  They get no benefit.

Here is where it gets worse.

People often engage in a behavior called risk compensation when it comes to safety gear.  A famous case from automotive engineering was when airbags first became mandatory.  People thought the airbag would protect them so they didn’t wear seatbelts, increasing the fatality rate of accidents.  Airbags only work in conjunction with seatbelts.

You can see this phenomenon every winter when some idiot drives recklessly in the snow because he has 4WD and thinks that makes his car magic in the snow.

So there is a likelihood that people wearing masks and gloves improperly, will engage in risk compensation and avoid social distancing or visit an infected family member or do something else stupid that gets them infected because they think “I’m wearing all the right gear, I’m not going to get sick.”

The government wasn’t lying.  It just wasn’t blunt enough to say:

“You dumb shits have no idea how to maintain safety and sterility with your equipment so it’s doing nothing to protect you.  All you are doing is wasting a resource that could go to someone who really needs it.  Just go to the grocery store only when necessary, stay out of sneeze distance from strangers, and wash your damn hands.”

Part of the problem here is that the media need us to panic to sell viewership.

They have a financial incentive to make you believe that this is the opening to The Omega Man instead of just a really bad case of the flu.

Pictured: not fucking reality.


For people with preexisting conditions, the elderly, and healthcare workers, every little bit helps.

But going to Kroger in a bad fitting drywall respirator and gloves and not practicing sterility procedures is a waste of money and will do precisely dick to keep you safe.

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By J. Kb

13 thoughts on “A little bit on masks and gloves”
  1. Thanks J.Kb, I’ve been preaching the same (though not as articulate) where I can. In a former life I was a Radiological Control Technician. I’ve been fit tested, and helped fit test others. I’ve spent more hours than I care to recall “sucking rubber” in full ant-contamination clothing (Anti-Cs). I have had to specify Anti-C requirements, including the level of respiratory protection depending on the hazard level. Note that in the radiological protection business the standard respirator cartridge is a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. The rating for a HEPA filter is 99.97% efficiency with .3 micron particles. Despite the higher efficiency rating, a HEPA filter will provide significantly less protection than the rated 99.97% efficiency for smaller particles.. For those who have never had the “pleasure” of wearing a respirator for a few hours, breathing through a HEPA filter gets exhausting after several hours, and in a working environment rest breaks are mandatory, especially if doing hard work.

  2. In the strictest sense, you are correct and I agree with you about the lack of knowledge about using PPE and the danger of them giving a false sense of security. That said, I’d like to offer my personal reasons for wearing gloves and masks.

    I have been wearing nitrile gloves for many years when working where my hands might get dirty or contaminated, like changing the oil in the car or cleaning guns. It all started after changing the oil in my new Rabbit Diesel. As a result, today I’m wearing gloves most of the time I’m out or when I’m handling groceries/mail/etc. I wear them because first and foremost they protect my skin and are easier to clean well afterwards than my hands are (I still wash or sanitize my hands as soon as I take off the gloves). I also carry my own Lysol wipes and constantly wipe things I have to touch and then re-wipe my gloves.

    I’m still not sure how much a procedure mask helps, but I figure if I have to be out and around people it can’t hurt. I went to the grocery early this morning and I was one of the few wearing a mask. I got the sense people were keeping even further away from me, either from fear or because they saw my gray hair and felt sorry for me.

    One additional benefit I’ve noticed is that if I’m wearing gloves and/or a mask, I am near perfect about not touching my face. Psychological I know, but that is probably of more benefit than anything else.

    I’m fortunate that I’m retired and can hide at home pretty much all the time, and I can’t say thank you enough to those who continue to work so I have a grocery store to go to and have heat/lights/electricity/etc.. However, I could easily do without the news broadcasts. 😉


  3. I can top the guy pushing the cart, I went to the Food Lion in Southport, NC on Sunday and saw a guy wearing a full freaking gas mask looking like he was showing off his purchase from a Soviet army surplus store! Talk about looking like a dork! Must be confusing mustard gas with a virus.

    Its too bad common sense isn’t all that common.

  4. For clarification, the virus is 0.120 microns, a P100 blocks 99% of particles of 0.3 microns or larger.

    My question is: Are we dealing with a virus instance or a cluster of virus’s or are we dealing with a virus within a carrier.

    When I use a P100 mask, I shave the beard off first and then make sure there is no leakage. Not as good as a fit test as I don’t have the experience to do a fit test. 🙁

    My goal is to stop the stuff that is clumped or in a droplet. I know it isn’t going to stop everything. I know that my P110 mask isn’t really going to protect them from my breathing, but it should slow things down.

    I’ve also used VOC filters when dealing with VOC for finishes. I couldn’t find good numbers on if that was better or worse than a P100. I.e. is it just a P100 with activated carbon or ???

    Regardless, in my opinion, if you are filtering the air you are breathing, it should be doing something about stopping some of the air born contaminates.

    In this case, J.Kb knows so much more about the subject than I do, I’m just listening to what he has to say.

    1. Filters aren’t needed to catch the virus itself, but the mucous and saliva it’s floating in. So stopping the droplets is effective. Normal N95 respirators are being used in hospitals.

      A P100 mask blocks 99.9% of particles .3 microns and larger. I just checked the mask I use when working with resins, and it’s rated P100 and I know for sure it has activated carbon to filter VOCs.

  5. The best thing about a mask is it keeps people away from you. People turn their carts around when they see me coming

  6. Saw a good graphic/infographic on mask use a while back. It made it abundantly clear that a healthy person wearing a mask is a waste of a mask. On the other hand, if an infected person wears the mask, it helps.

    Used a group of nine healthy people and one infected on a train. Cover the nose and mouth of the healthy people, while the infected person is coughing away results in nine more infections. (skin, surfaces, clothes, even the mask are now covered in virus containing droplets.)

    Cover the nose and mouth of the sick person, and odds are, none of the healthy people will catch it.

  7. Yes, a lot of people are idiots. But mask or no mask they’ll be idiots. Look at the corona parties for a wonderful example. But if you get everyone to wear a cloth mask that will catch the droplets when they cough, then the person with mild symptoms who thinks they’re just sore from work and have allergies aren’t going to infect everyone else who grabs a can of corn off the shlef they just coughed into.

  8. You are wrong.

    Studies show:

    1) Sars-CoV – 2 viral load correlates with severity of CCovid-19

    2) Even home made masks from dish towels filter out 70+
    % of 0.02 micron particles. While Sars-cov-2 can form aerosols, droplets, which are larger, seem to be more common way of transmission.

    Even horribly fitting mask will reduce viral load, which can make a difference between been horribly sick or just dead.

    Plus it prevents one from touching ones face
    , thus eliminating additional route of transmission.

    Combine home made mask with a face shield and gloves – and, by reducing viral load, you saved yours or/and somebody else’s life.

    It is easy to learn how to properly fit a mask or safely take off and dispose off gloves. You can either wash homemade cloth mask or sterilize used N95 in the oven. Any mask and any gloves are better than nothing. Plus face shield/shooting glasses, swimming goggles etc.

    There is massive number of reliable studies published on the matter.

    Surgeon General made pariahs out of responsible people wearing masks. It is simply criminal.

    1. P. S. Just to make sure: I rather like this blog and I would prefer for the both of you guys to avoid the worst of what Sars cov 2 has to offer. Please, wear masks, gloves and face shield in public. Professional, home made – – whatever you can get your hands on. REDUCE VIRAL LOAD.

  9. Have a big ol beard and work requires you to be fit tested but my complexion is such that HR is afraid to ask me if its for religious reasons so I never bothered to correct them.

    PAPR for me and my own personal supply of cold filtered air!

    As for mask use yeah lots of goobers out there lady at the supermarket was in scrubs on the phone loudly smacking her gum and “yah guuurrrlll”-ing into the phone. Had gloves on and was pawing through the sausage links. Apparently, not able to communicate clearly over her gum smacking that was loud enough to hear at the other end of the freezer case, she stuck her gloved fingers in her mouth with the hand she had been riffling through the packaged meats with and held it between finger and thumb while telling the person on the other end the prices. At the end she then stuck not just the gum but finger and thumb in her mouth and sucked before going back to shopping.

    When I’ve needed a a mask for wood work or when the local sportsball team win/loses/gets a new uniform and the fans riot a cold water dive hood allows my pro mask to form a seal whilst keeping my beard out of the way.

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