Why Use a Mas?  The Science

 By Shlomo Maital


    Why wear a face mask? (to prevent spread and infection of COVID)?  I learned about the science from a Science Friday podcast, hosted by John Dankosky,  interviewing Professor Thomas Moore, from Rollins College, in Winter Park, Florida.

     Face masks work!  And here is why.  Moore uses a sophisticated device, to track the flow of air as it leaves our mouths when we exhale.  It can do this, because the air we exhale is warmer than the surrounding air.  The temperature difference can show up visually, and we can literally watch the air as it exhales from our mouths and noses.

    When we exhale without a mask, the air (and aerosols containing the virus) extend from our mouths for several feet horizontally.

    When we wear a mask, the air exits from the sides of the mask,  from the top of the mask and from the bottom of the mask.  At first glance, this seems to make the mask ineffective?   But no, not at all!   According to Professor Moore,  the air exiting the mask, top and bottom, simply rises (warm air rises),  to above head level!   And above head level, it is not infectious.   So yes!   Wear a mask!  It does work.  Even if you sense the air you breath out is still excaping from the sides and top and bottom.

    And those plexiglass barriers?   They work!   Because again, they direct the air we exhale up and away from the head of, say, the bank clerk opposite us. 

    Want to sing?   Singing without a mask expels air for much longer distances, horizontally, and can be dangerous.  There are singer’s masks, that look like duck bills, extending away from the lips.  If you want to be heard and understood better, get a singer’s mask —  it makes the sound of your voice almost natural.

     Bottom line.  Yes, masks ARE effective.  They do reduce infections and spreading. And with the new variant Omicron about to dominate and displace Delta, masks have become crucial – once again.  And no, it is not about your personal freedom!  It is about whether you care enough about your friends and neighbors, and strangers, to do one simple thing (wear a mask) to avoid harming them.  If you don’t care —   well, you rank very low on the scale of caring thoughtful humanity.