In this episode, I answer the basic question of whether there’s a benefit to wearing a mask when no one else is. The short answer is yes.
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.
Christopher Penn 0:13
In today’s episode, a question from my third newsletter, the one that I wish would go away.
Hasn’t my lunchtime pandemic newsletter? Joe Roden, what’s the benefit of wearing a mask when no one else around you is? What’s the benefit of wearing a coat if you’re gold, whether or not anyone else is wearing code, right? Airborne pathogens, not just COVID.
But flu, the common cold, monkeypox, mold, spores, smoke, you name it, are by definition in the environment around you.
Wearing a mask helps to isolate you somewhat from that environment.
And the better a mask you wear, the more isolated you are, the more protected you are from that environment.
So if you put on a cloth mask, you know has about like 30 ish percent efficiency, that reduces the amount of particles you take in by about 30%.
We know with the Omicron variants that that’s not good enough anymore surgical masks of a 55% 55 to 70%.
And 95 masks, reduce when you’re not familiar with them.
Look like these, you know, got the straps, the nose piece your finger over like this, anywhere like this, these will get you 95% of the way there.
What an N 95 mask does is it reduces 95% of the particles that you’re breathing in that are point three microns or better.
So if you’re breathing in 95%, less stuff, including living viral fragments, you are reducing the probability that you catch any airborne disease, it doesn’t matter whether or not everyone else around you is is wearing a mask.
Obviously, if everyone around you is wearing a mask, they are filtering their own air to some degree, and they’re reducing the total amount of pathogens in the air.
So what you have to do is where the fewer and fewer masks are being worn around you, the more the better your mask has to be to counter that.
So that was an n 95.
This is an n 99.
So this reduces 99% of the particles that you’re breathing in.
And then I think another one’s upstairs.
A P 100.
Mask reduces 99.97% of the particles in the air around you that you breathe in.
That’s really good.
That’s really really good.
That is, you know,
Christopher Penn 3:15
that will handle pretty much anything.
So I was in Montenegro recently.
And the I was I spent 21 hours door to door traveling in cars, planes, all sorts of stuff saying or hanging out in airports surrounded by people 99% of them did not have masks on.
I did after I tested every other day after I got home for tests in a row.
Negative on for COVID.
I didn’t catch any other conference crud any of the other, you know colds and coughs and things.
Why? Because the mask I was wearing was good enough to filter out everything, you know, substantially harmful to me.
That’s the value.
It doesn’t matter what the people around you are doing.
It’s better if they’re wearing masks.
But if your mask is good enough, it doesn’t matter.
Right? You’re screening at 99.97% of the junk that could be infecting you or causing you physical harm.
But the only thing those masks really don’t filter out are gases.
Right? So if you are breathing in like radon gas that’s still going to hurt you no matter what.
There’s no fixing that.
If you’re breathing in like cyanide gas yet that’s still going to kill you.
But anything that is a particle, which includes viruses includes stuff people are coughing out and sneezing out all the time.
You’re gonna get that filtered out so should you still wear a mask? Yeah, if you don’t want to be breathing that crap in and again, it’s not just COVID That’s the thing about part that I think drives me up a wall is that people think it’s, you know, your, the pandemic is, is somewhat receding for the moment.
So we don’t have to wear masks Well, that’s fine.
It’s your personal choice.
But the reality is, you have mold, you have spores, you have pollen this time of year is, you know, it’s it’s summer as I record this, you know, this, the atmosphere is green, outside yellow is green from all the pollen, you have what, five, no 25 strains of influenza, you have four other types of coronaviruses, which are common colds, you still have COVID and stuff.
When you wear a mask, particularly in like a grocery store or in other crowded indoor place, you ain’t getting any of that.
Right? You’re not bringing in any of those harmful things, whether or not there’s a vaccine for it, whether or not it is life threatening.
It’s a convenience thing, right.
And the irony is, the better the mask is a the more expensive it is, but be, the more comfortable it is my pee 100 masks are much, much more comfortable than n95s.
They don’t they don’t sit on or near my nose, there’s a lot of room to breathe.
If you want to go crazy, you could have like a powered air purifying respirator have like the full faceplate and stuff.
It may come a day when we need that.
But for right now, you don’t need that.
If you want to wear the safest mask possible, particularly if you you or someone you live with is immune compromised, where p 100.
Mask and you will be surprised at just how comfortable it is how long you can wear them.
I had my P 100.
On on the plane and I was able to sleep in it.
Right It was that comfortable? So that’s the answer to that question.
Yes, there is benefit to wearing a mask regardless of what other people are doing around you.
Right? There’s benefit to wearing something that filters out the surrounding air.
If it’s cigarette smoke or weed or you know, whatever wildfires.
I mean, I’ve been carrying a mask with me like eight years.
Every time I go to the west coast in America at something’s on fire.
So the and I remember as it was one conference, went out for about an hour outside of my hotel and came back in my normally white mask to start to turn a little bit gray from the wildfire smoke.
These masks are super handy.
In fact, now is the best time to stock up on like n95 masks because there’s a ton of supply.
And a whole bunch of people are like well, we’re done wearing masks like you can get them at a pretty decent bargain so stock up.
Thanks for asking.
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