California: Masks will stop a viral epidemic, but won’t help with smoke

“Bay Area smoke: To breathe safely, stay inside and don’t count on masks” (Mercury News):

Don’t count on masks to help with bad air, experts say

But people shouldn’t expect much protection from the bandanas or surgical masks they have become accustomed to wearing in public to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Experts also caution against relying on the more sought-after N95 respirator masks because they are in short supply.

With wildfire smoke, microscopic soot particles, about 2.5 microns in size, can be inhaled and cause inflammation, explained John Balmes, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, in an article published on the university’s website.

There also is concern that poor air quality from the wildfires could increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Dr. Stephanie Christenson, an assistant professor of pulmonology at UC San Francisco, said this concern is based on preliminary research linking air pollution to increased COVID-19 susceptibility, severity and death.

Because of the pandemic, people should continue to wear cloth and surgical masks in public, because they block respiratory droplets and help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Christenson said. Unfortunately, these masks don’t block out the “very, very small” toxic particles from wildfire smoke, she said.

So the coronavirus is smaller than 2.5 microns?

Back in February, in “Can Masks Capture Coronavirus Particles?”, our big enemy was “spheres with diameters of approximately 0.125 microns (125 nm). The smallest particles are 0.06 microns, and the largest are 0.14 microns.”

As of July, the coronavirus was still 0.125 microns in size, according to “Can HEPA Air Purifiers Capture the Coronavirus?” (Wirecutter).

The McKinsey folks responsible for Enron’s success, in “Can HVAC systems help prevent the transmission of COVID-19?”, describe humans being victimized by particles as small as 0.1 microns.

Science tells us that masks are useless against smoke particles that are 2.5 microns in size and also that masks will stop a 0.125-micron coronaplague dead in its tracks. #FollowScience !

(From the New York Times, the progress of coronavirus in a state under a universal mask order and blessed with science-informed leadership:


See also the higher rates of coronavirus infections in masked U.S. and France compared to never-masked Sweden and barely-masked Netherlands:

From Bar Harbor, Maine:


8 thoughts on “California: Masks will stop a viral epidemic, but won’t help with smoke

  1. In one case
    – you’re trying to limit contagion
    – you yourself may be producing particles inside your mask
    – it takes more than slight, intermittent exposure to create a new infection
    – you have control over how close you get to other people, and your degree of droplet production by wearing a mask

    In the other
    – all air around you is suffused in noxious particles
    – if outside you are inhaling *some* regardless of mask, and any amount is bad news
    – your proximity to other people, mask-wearing or otherwise, is irrelevant

  2. I’m here on the California coast near Los Angeles and can verify that it is bad outside. I have one of those urban masks with the charcoal filter and it doesn’t help. This is the worst year for these fires that I can remember….especially the smoke. And I live 70-100 miles away from them.

  3. I think you misread slightly; “caution against” doesn’t mean it’s wrong, they just want to be able to obtain them cheaper for themselves. (clearly PM2.5 does help significantly w/ smoky air)

  4. The COVID-1984 test positivity rates by now measure nothing other than false positives resulting from excessive numbers of cycles (“Ct”) in RT-PCR tests. Dialing the cycles down has immediate impact on the test outcomes, which should be something any sane person would recognize as a typical case of over-amplified noise. (PCR is notoriously hard to use quantitatively, by the way, as it essentially amplifies every piece of junk and at some point the competition between junk and target DNA for resources becomes an issue. There’s a special protocol for that, qPCR (aka real-time PCR not to be confused with reverse transcriptase PCR aka RT-PCR), which uses primers specifically designed to have affinity mostly to target sequence, but it is NOT what is used in RT-PCR C-19 tests).

    So… before we compare stuff between different countries we need to take a closer look at the test protocols used in respective countries.

    That said, while efficacy of (real, not Chinese “KN95” knock-offs) N95 masks can be debated (the viral particles aren’t floating in the air as separate particles, but rather ride on very small water droplets), the surgical masks are totally and utterly useless and shouldn’t be used at all. They are not filters, they are mechanical shields designed to prevent surgeon’s spit droplets from landing on open incisions and wounds. The inhaled and exhaled air, together with fine aerosols which carry the viral particles, go around the masks (the larger spit droplets aren’t noticeably infectious in case of airborne viral diseases because they drop out of the air quickly). Meanwhile, the part of the air flow which goes through the surgical masks causes droplets to be drawn in and absorbed on the mask, thus concentrating contaminants and virions on the mask itself, which can convert the rather minor exposure to ambient pollution (which is promptly dealt with by the immune system (immunoglobulins in saliva and mucus) before it gets a chance to get infectious) into a much higher momentary exposure when the mask is (improperly) handled (so some pathogens have a chance to go past the first-line immune defenses and into tissues). The rate of exposure over time matters!

    Meanwhile, the masks get moist and warm from the breath and contaminated with proteins from saliva, and thus become the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. They should be discarded every couple hours. The fungal infections in lungs are particularly nasty and hard to treat.

    This also means that surgical masks are useless against air pollution. And N95 masks are mostly useless if they’re not fitted properly (the polluted air simply goes through the gaps instead of the filter) – the simple way to tell is if breathing in the mask is hard, it’s fitted properly. (You’d actually do better in gas-mask style respirators, as they have larger area of the filters, and thus lower resistance to air flow, and their seals are way more reliable.) Note that real N95 masks and respirators NEVER filter exhaled air (to reduce breathing muscle fatigue which can lead to asphyxia, and to reduce issues with bacterial/fungal growth inside masks). So, naturally, in some jurisdictions they’re not allowed as protection against COVID-1984!

    Now, mask up, hamsters. Because Nanny State told you so. So that you won’t see facial expressions of your fellow citizens and will be more aggressive towards each other. Divide and conquer was always a reliable method of maintaining control over population. Meanwhile, while we are all distracted by the masquerade, trillions are being “appropriated” by the politically connected banksters, and preparations for massive election fraud are going on.

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