Microbial challenges from masks
Boris Borovoy, Colleen Huber, Maria Crisler
Face masks have come into common use in many countries since mid-2020, for all age groups. Some aspect of this may be voluntary, but certainly much of this use is either accompanied by force, threats, subtle coercion, or a continuum of subtle to fierce societal pressures on the individual to conform to mask-wearing. From widespread fear of COVID-19, associated with the virus named SARS-CoV2, mask-wearing is recently assumed by many to be a prudent measure against contagion.
In this paper, the second in our series, we continue our examination of the potential hazards of masks, in which we now turn attention to microbial contamination from masks and mask use, changes in oral and nasal microbiota, and potential risks to the lungs and other organ systems from microbial factors. Because widespread masking is a very new society-wide experiment, the impact of this experiment, the obstruction of airways from free breathing and a typical air exchange interplay with oral microbiota is not yet known. Furthermore, the effects of such changes in the lungs and beyond are not yet known.
This paper will explore some considerations of these changes, by examining mask effectiveness against transmission, historical evidence of epidemiology from the 1918–1919 pandemic, microbial contamination, respiratory disease and the role of oral bacteria in systemic disease; and infections involving fungi, yeast, and molds. Compiling statistical and scientific evidence from these subjects alone should help equip any individual with adequate information on risks and benefits when choosing whether to wear a mask.
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