The other day a listener called my Radio show and stated that the N95 mask only protects the wearer and does not protect others from the wearer’s breath.  He stated the air the wearer breathes in is filter but the air the wearer breaths out is not.

I looked into this and found the following information.  Fox News reported on this very same question way back on July 21, 2020.  The listener who called into my show was partially correct.  It appears not all N95 masks are equally effective at keeping other people safe from your breath.

The N95 Face masks that have exhalation valves, do allow the wearer’s droplets of germs to spread to other people.  A San Francisco health officer Dr. Tomás Aragón, who signed an order in May warning of the potential dangers of these particular masks stated:

Any mask that incorporates a one-way valve (typically a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask) that is designed to facilitate easy exhaling allows droplets to be released from the mask, putting others nearby at risk,

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

We then find out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance actually state that the standard N95 respirators do “reduce the wearer's exposure by filtering out around 95 percent of air particles, while those with exhalation valves allow “unfiltered exhaled air to escape into the sterile field."

A cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, by the name of Dr. Matthew L. Springer, informed the San Francisco Chronicle that masks with these values are “practically useless.”  He stated:

Given that most of the value of these masks is not to protect the wearer but to protect others from a potentially contagious asymptomatic wearer, those one-way valves make the masks practically useless for protecting others…So all those potentially contagious people are spewing unfettered large respiratory droplets, probably even in a concentrated stream going through the valves.

What are you to do?  If you are concerned about spreading your possible germ-filled droplets you should not purchase any N95 masks that have these exhalation valves.  If you currently have N95 with the exhalation valve, “health expert’s say you can cover it with a piece of tape”.

Now you are fully informed about the masks that many experts, including Joe Biden’s say, are the only masks we should be talking about wearing.

To find out where the Calhoun County Health Department is offering free KN95 masks click on the following link: Locations.  For your information, the KN95 masks are not as effective as the N95 masks but they are better than the surgical masks.

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