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Horowitz: No, N95s won’t stop the virus either

Op-ed
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We all knew this was coming. The same people who were wrong for over a year about the power of surgical masks — at a very painful cost to our children and society — are now seamlessly pivoting to their new position without ever apologizing for their original mistakes. They now want children to wear the even more cruel N95 masks. The twisted irony is that after causing more discomfort and potential medical harms to children, they will still not provide protection against the virus.

Like a dog returning to his vomit, Scott Gottleib, a former FDA administrator under Obama, called for kids to wear N95s rather than confess the mistake of the failed social experiment. Last week, Gottlieb advised schools to begin using KN95 masks, the Chinese version of the N95. He also praised the Utah RINO governor for making KN95 masks available for school districts that want them. Since he called for these masks, there is now a torrent of N95 and KN95 articles in the media. Dr. Michael Osterholm, Biden's former COVID adviser, has also called for all adults to wear N95s after conceding that surgical and cloth masks failed to show any efficacy. Ezekiel Emanuel, who is very influential with Democrat policymakers, has also publicly recommended N95 respirators.

We've seen this nightmare before, and what begins as a bad dream rapidly descends into reality and soon turns into a mandate.

Aside from the fact that anyone pushing them on kids should be charged with reckless child endangerment, N95s really don't make any more of a difference against the virus than the other masks. Should we trust the same people who were wrong about surgical masks to now make kids suffer under their crueler cousin?

Stephen Petty, a certified industrial hygienist and hazardous exposure expert, sent me a copy of an N95 usage label made by 3M that he enlarged into an infographic. It turns out the company's own disclosure blows up the myth of using an N95 for viral protection.

The label confirms what everyone understood prior to the mask mania of COVID: Masks cannot stop aerosols, certainly not viral ones, which are much smaller than bacteria. What's truly revealing is that the label recommends against relying on them for source protection even against asbestos particles, which are on average 5 microns – 50 times larger than SARS-CoV-2 virions.

A large randomized controlled trial published just months before the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 — before masking became a political and social control tool — showed no benefit to N95s over surgical masks in terms of protection against the flu. "Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza," concluded the authors of the large trial, published in JAMA on Sept. 3, 2019.

Not surprisingly, we have seen no real difference in efficacy of N95s against this virus either. Bavaria and Berlin are two of the only known places to mandate the use of N95 masks, yet they failed to stop the subsequent wave, just as we saw with surgical and cloth masks elsewhere.

So, for no gain, what sort of pain should children expect to experience after wearing these devices for seven hours? A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that a sample of nurses experienced significant increases in CO2 levels and "complaints of headache, lightheadedness, and difficulty communicating also increased over time." More recently, a study of 154 N95-wearing health care workers in Singapore found a significant increase in mask-induced blood carbon dioxide levels, which was associated with noticeable headaches in most of the trial group.

It's therefore not surprising that for wildfires, the California Department of Health warns that children should not wear NIOSH N95 or P100 masks. "Children should not wear these masks – they do not fit properly and can impede breathing," states the department of health on the Q&A page about smoke inhalation and wildfires. As the Sacramento County Department of Health Services states, "N95 respirator can make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe due to carbon dioxide buildup, which reduces the intake of oxygen, increased breathing rates, and heart rates."

Remember, gradual and subtle oxygen deprivation is worse for children while their bodies are still growing. Is this what we are prepared to foist upon our children now that we've thrown out the pre-political science we once abided by?

The sad irony, according to Stephen Petty, is that there is a much more effective way of controlling a hazardous environment based on the hierarchy of controls we apply in any other interaction with potential toxins. Here is a simple way to view the hierarchy of controls from a PowerPoint presentation Petty, who has testified in court cases on mask mandates, put together.

While endless isolation and PPE-wearing have proven unfeasible and ineffective, what we haven't tried is placing filters in major public areas that actually dilute and kill the virus particles. Petty recommends iWave-R Air Ionization filters in particular.

Our failed approach to source control is quite similar to the treatment approach of the virus. Rather than treating it early and effectively with cheap medicines, our government has spent a fortune investing in an ever-weakening vaccine and ineffective, expensive treatments like remdesivir. Officials are placing the onus on the people to experiment with their lives rather than helping empower people with reliable and safe, proven drugs.

Similarly, as it relates to source control, they focused on civilization-killing lockdowns and control of the human body, which never works as well as controlling the environment by killing the virus.

No, installing these filters will not permanently save us from the natural flow of the virus, but to the extent that anything will work to slow the spread indoors, it would be an ionization filter, not a piece of cloth. But our government refuses to focus on what actually works and helps people in the most efficient and cost-conscience way; officials seek to maximize the pain with no gain. After all, this is not really about source control, but about social control.

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