Medical Science: COVID-19 - Is Your Mask Safe and Effective

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Now that Omicron has appeared on the scene, and mask mandates are being reinstituted, are you bringing back your old masks? Many expect instant and all-day protection from the N95 mask. Read on for more information.

Some places are now requiring N95 masks, which are claimed to remove 95% of particles above a certain size—if and only if properly fitted. This is a process that takes about 15 minutes. Men need to be clean-shaven because even a one-day stubble can interfere with the seal. So don’t just take a mask out of a box, put it on over your beard, and expect it to work as advertised.


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Here is a photo of a mask manufactured 10 years ago:

 New N95 masks don’t have the warning, but still have the same dangers. They can be safely worn only for a limited period (say 3 hours). One of many problems is that they interfere with gas exchange. Yet some workers (e.g., firefighters or EMTs) may be required to wear them almost continuously (even when sleeping) for an entire shift, which might be 24 hours or longer. Most people have headaches and other symptoms. If they don’t, their mask probably doesn’t fit properly.


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Is something different about Omicron? It might penetrate your cells more efficiently, but it is the same size as other variants, and there are no differences in electrical charge or other factors that could affect its ability to go through or around masks.

What does the N95 mandate tell you? It tells me that the authorities do not believe that an ordinary mask works. They nonetheless seem unconcerned about the health effects of enforcement efforts that have included arresting young mothers, beating old women, and pepper-spraying children.

Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989.


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She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for school children, Professor Klugimkopf's Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf's Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. 

More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and non-hazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.


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If you would like to discuss these issues, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

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