# Claim: Videos of people exhaling vape smoke through a mask, demonstrate masks as useless against a virus..

#### Dean Kearns

##### New Member
Recently, I've been sent some videos as evidence that facemasks do not act as an effective means to stop the spread of a virus. The videos show a person perform a demonstration using vape smoke. The implication is that since the vape smoke passes through the mask, and viral particles are of a similar scale to smoke particles, masks are therefore pointless.

TL;DR: As a visual demonstration of mask effectiveness, this is misleading. The vape smoke introduces billions and billions more particles, in a single saturated breath, than would be exhaled during normal breathing/talking/singing/ or even a cough. Viral particles are spread via respiratory droplets, which are mostly caught in the mask. The representation in the video is showing 107000+ times MORE vape smoke particles per exhaled breath, than is analogous to a single cough. Respiratory infection doesn't work the way these videos imply it does, otherwise everyone would catch all airborne viruses constantly. Everyone in the world would have caught Covid for example, yet they have not. Viral inoculation load is of high significance with regards to severity of infection. The masks act as a very real force multiplier when combined with social distancing.

"Smoke through mask" Video example |

(3×10^9)x500 = 1.5x10^12 respiratory particles per breath

14000000 is 0.00093333333333333% of 1500000000000.

In other words, how different does this visualization look if the smoke particles per exhaled breath, are reduced by 99.9990666667%?

Or, another way of looking at it is, the representation in the video is showing 107000+ times MORE vape smoke particles per exhaled breath coming out of his mouth than is analogous to a single cough, which itself is much less than just breathing. (Breathing is apparently only about 100 respiratory particles per breath according to Wikipedia but I couldn't get access to any decent articles confirming this. Use 100 instead of 14000000 in the calculation and this visualization becomes even less analogous by a factor of 140000) <---*help needed with source or correction*

Respiratory droplets of various sizes (which are what hold the viral particles) are mostly caught in the mask and prevented from spraying the air in front of you.

Smaller respiratory droplets carry dramatically less viral load than larger droplets.
the viral load of a 100 μm droplet was approximately 10^6 times that of a 1 μm droplet
Content from External Source
Certain other properties, such as evaporation time based on droplet size, also act as important variables too.
Furthermore, the exhaled droplets are affected by heat and mass transfer of evaporation, water fraction, salt concentration, and acid-base balance (the water fraction > 98%), which lead them to change rapidly, and the viral survival condition also deteriorates dramatically. The time required for the initial diameter (do) of a droplet to shrink to the equilibrium diameter (de, about 30% of do) is approximately proportional to the second power of the particle diameter, taking only a few milliseconds for a 1 μm droplet but hundreds of milliseconds for a 10 μm droplet; in other words, the viruses carried by the large droplets can be preserved as much as possible.
Content from External Source
(Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33519041/)

Drastically reducing these daily nodes of transmission, has a very real effect on the infection rate. If it worked the way these anti-mask videos imply, we'd all catch the flu (and every airborne disease) every time it made any sort of mutation or as soon as our immune system forgets the chemical signature over time.

The masks act as a very real force multiplier when combined with social distancing. They're to shift the balance as much as possible.

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I have vaped for 8 years now. Vape 'smoke' is not smoke at all. It is not even remotely comparable to cigarette smoke. Almost nothing is actually burned. It is vapour....more comparable to steam from a kettle. In fact the whole way that vaping works is that an electric element heats the liquid ( usually something like propylene glycol ) to boiling point, and what a person vapes is effectively that vaporised 'steam'. That is most of what is exhaled, and is molecular in size....which is why it easily passes through a mask. There is a small amount of particulate matter, far less than from a cigarette, mainly from the coil used as a 'wick' for the liquid.

I think this video proves some things:
a) N95 masks are effective protection if properly fitted, which is why health care workers use them.
b) Other face masks don't limit breathing much and are a minor inconvenience.
c) good cloth masks do retain a fair amount of particles
d) surgical masks are effective filters, their weakness are the openings, particularly near the nose. (I wear glasses and have taken to applying some medical sticky tape to the top rim of my masks below the eyes, sticking the mask to my skin.)

Like most CT experiments, this is qualitative and lacks any attempt at quantitative measurement. The best we can tell is that non-N95-masks let some amount of matter past, mostly through the holes at the sides, but how much is retained? We don't know from this experiment.

The real test is figuring out whether mask wearing actually helps prevent infections; that's somewhat hard to pin down as mask wearing is part of a whole package of NPIs that has been proven to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

I've posted studies on the filtering qualities of various materials here last year; I'm not current on the science concerning the effectiveness of masks at spreading infections.

Was sent this recently by a family member. Honestly I don't know what to think of all this.

This is just my understanding, and i could be wrong about some things. but i dont think i am.

if you can breathe through it relatively easily for an hour or more (depending on lung strength) you are breathing in aerosols. That's why they are recommending N95s for Delta variant. BUT we get sick because of viral load. I dont know what the necessary viral load of Delta is to make you sick. It's likely less than ALpha variant, which was less than flu virus.

That's why ventilation is important in classrooms etc, to help suck out the delta aerosols.
That's why social distancing is still important (aerosols spread out as they move)
The masks are protecting you from big droplets that say someone sneezes in your face. If you walk through a dispersed cloud of aerosols while grocery shopping (with everyone wearing masks) that someone breathed out 3 mins ago, you likely will be breathing in delta particles but hopefully not enough to make you sick. If you breathe in a big droplet that someone spittled, or coughed, or laughed into the air you will likely get sick as that big droplet has more delta particles in it.

I might be using the term "particles" wrong, but hopefully you get my drift.

Yes his glasses fogged up with alot of effort on his part, but the glasses were like an inch from his mouth. We dont usually socialize an inch from people's mouths.

Was sent this recently by a family member. Honestly I don't know what to think of all this.
The final kicker is on moisture, but H2O molecules are actually much smaller than any virus, so that's bunk right there.

The virus size also doesn't matter, because the virus multiplies in the nose and throat first. (If you have your lung infected, by that time you've hopefully let yourself be tested.)
The virus multiplies in the nose and throat and gets released via the mucous membranes. That means when it gets reased, it is usually embedded in small drops of mucus (snot). We know that mucus droplets are usually not very fluid, and thus form the larger droplets and not the smaller aerosols. That's what most of the virus that people exhale is going to be, and it'll have a hard time getting through masks without touching and sticking to any fibers; and it'll also have a hard time flowing around the curve that it needs to to escape the surgical mask at the side.

Imagine glitter: you know that it'll get everywhere, but if you use glitter glue, it can't, because the glitter is embedded in these sticky drops. So the virus could get everywhere, but it doesn't, because most of it is stuck in mucus droplets.

That said. if you have a lot of air flow through the throat, such as when you are singing or exercising, there'll be smaller, aersol-type droplets; and also when medical staff intubates someone. aerosols get released. Situations like these are more dangerous.

So what surgical masks do (and some good home-made masks do that as well) is reduce the amount of virus that you release if you've become infected and don't know it yet. (The original video in this clip shows this quite clearly.)

It's a statistical thing:
Imagine playing Russian Roulette with 3 bullets in the revolver; you're not going to be safe by taking 2 bullets out, but it's still an improvement.

Same with Covid: epidemiologically, we need to slow down the rate at which the virus spreads, and for that, it's enough to inhibit it some.

If you want better protection, get an N95 mask fitted so that it doesn't have "blowby". And keep distancing as much as you can even if you wear a mask.

If you find a link to the influenza study referenced in the clip, I can have a look at it for you. I don't have any links for studies on masks vs Covid handy, but I'm sure they also exist (and have probably been referenced elsewhere on Metabunk).

tl;dr
1) masks don't have to be perfect in order to help slow down the spread
2) in normal situations, most virus exhaled is in droplets
3) moisture is much smaller than droplets and aerosols

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Thanks for your thoughts. What about breathing through a moist piece of cloth for hours on end though? While rearranging it every other minut.

Thanks for your thoughts. What about breathing through a moist piece of cloth for hours on end though? While rearranging it every other minut.
Not a good idea, exchange your mask for a new one in that case.

Article:
When the mask is no longer tolerated, there will be a tendency to touch it often with one's hands, which increases the risk of contact contamination, and to reposition it on one's face, which increases the risk of inhaling viral particles. In addition, when the mask is wet, its electrostatic properties decrease (therefore it retains less particles), and its air permeability decreases (therefore it is less "breathable"). This is why it is then preferable to change the mask.

In fact, surgical masks and N95 retain their filtration properties for more than 4 hours. It is therefore possible to wear your mask for more than 4 hours and change it only:

• when it is no longer tolerated or accepted
• when the filtering part of the mask is wet...
• when the mask has lost some of its integrity: relaxed elastic, damaged filtering part.
• when there were potentially infectious droplets splashing onto the mask.
If you don't talk and don't make an effort, the mask stays dry for a long time and you can keep it on. If you speak loudly or sing, if you exert yourself, or if it is very hot, the mask gets wet quickly and it is best to change it regularly.

I don't wear the same mask for more than 4 hours.

Thanks for your thoughts. What about breathing through a moist piece of cloth for hours on end though? While rearranging it every other minut.
That you can conceive of a way to use a tool incorrectly does not mean the tool is useless.

That you can conceive of a way to use a tool incorrectly does not mean the tool is useless.
Fair point, in a way it is another topic, yet how functional is a tool for the masses if the masses don't use them correctly (I don't pretend to know the answer to this question by the way)? I don't agree with this guy, but some of the images speak for themselves.

how functional is a tool for the masses if the masses don't use them correctly
that's the biggest argument against N95 masks for the masses, waste of money most of the time if you wear them like a surgical mask, which is cheaper

but I explained before, it doesn't have to be perfect to have an effect on the spread of the virus

If you're curious, I think some people looked at whether the BLM protests last year had an effect on Covid spreading, and as far as I can remember, they didn't; unlike some other big maskless events. So there is data for you to find if you want to seek it out.

I've seen the recommendation to not wear masks for more than 4 hours in many places, and it's also printed on the packaging for some masks.

P.S. if they are a small group of friends travelling to the event in the same car together, sharing a bottle won't increase their risk of infection much

yet how functional is a tool for the masses if the masses don't use them correctly

not very but every infected person who wears one correctly is helpful in slowing the spread.
Article:
The only people who need masks are those who are already infected to keep from exposing others. The masks sold at drugstores aren't even good enough to truly protect anyone, Fauci said.

"If you look at the masks that you buy in a drug store, the leakage around that doesn't really do much to protect you," he said.

I think some people looked at whether the BLM protests last year had an effect on Covid spreading, and as far as I can remember, they didn't; unlike some other big maskless events.

that's because the virus is "woke" and only spreads amongst evil people.

who wears one correctly
What if there are no true scotsmen? The most recently posted vid had some good nutpicking, but to be honest, a large number of people really don't have a clue what a mask is and does (I mean, just see the title of this thread for how rife misconceptions are). A perfectly valid rebuttal to my prior comment would have been "That you can conceive of a way to use a tool correctly does not mean the tool is useful.", I'd have had no counter-rebuttal. And before anyone steps in and proffers the suggestion that people just need to be taught how to use masks, I suspect a lesson that I've learnt from computer security also applies here - if the solution requires the eduction of the users, it's not a solution.

if the solution requires the eduction of the users, it's not a solution.
Mat have to make a t-shirt.

And before anyone steps in and proffers the suggestion that people just need to be taught how to use masks, I suspect a lesson that I've learnt from computer security also applies here - if the solution requires the eduction of the users, it's not a solution.
But that's literally true of everything. You can't use a framing nailer safely unless someone teaches you how to use a framing nailer, because humans don't shoot out of the womb with an innate understanding of air tools.

I suspect a lesson that I've learnt from computer security also applies here - if the solution requires the eduction of the users, it's not a solution.
what cracks me up is in our schools and colleges you are allowed to take your mask off in the cafeteria to eat. which i guess helps the teachers who are not in the cafeteria, but doesn't really help the kids from not getting covid from each other and bringing it home. (let alone, if you put your mask back on after particles landed on the inside of your mask, you now are putting those particles right up against your mouth and nose. did i mention i'm a bit of a germophobe?)

I don't agree with this guy, but some of the images speak for themselves.
The overarching problem with this video is that it's attempting (like so many others) to poiliticize a medical issue. Predictably (and it was predicted early on!), this political approach to the epidemic has played into the hands of the virus.
It kills people.

Education has solved many problems. Hygiene is probably the greatest factor in health improvement in human history; birth control and safe sex also rest on education. Literacy solves a great many problems for many people.
But you need to spend money on it, and you must combat misinformation and the damage it does.

But that's literally true of everything. You can't use a framing nailer safely unless someone teaches you how to use a framing nailer, because humans don't shoot out of the womb with an innate understanding of air tools.
88% of Drivers polled, say they are above average. https://www.adam-campbell.com/post/most-drivers-are-better-than-average/
That was in 2014.
We have not evolved since then. Assuming, a Mask mandate will help, is not true outside of a Laboratory. There is no evidence, that they work at all under field conditions, as worn by most everyone. We have had 17 months of masking, and there is no provable reduction in cases attributed solely to masking.

88% of Drivers polled, say they are above average. https://www.adam-campbell.com/post/most-drivers-are-better-than-average/
That was in 2014.
We have not evolved since then. Assuming, a Mask mandate will help, is not true outside of a Laboratory. There is no evidence, that they work at all under field conditions, as worn by most everyone. We have had 17 months of masking, and there is no provable reduction in cases attributed solely to masking.
What is your criteria for "proof" here?
Is it feasible to monitor and measure proper mask usage in the real world
(in numbers sufficient to be statistically significant) ?

Also, did you read the link from Dr. Campbell that you provided?

As used above, you seem to be using it as evidence of people being wrong,
but Campbell's point is the opposite:
"...it seems that most drivers are better than average."

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There is no evidence, that they work at all under field conditions, as worn by most everyone.
I just accidentally trashed my first attempt at an answer, so here's the short version:

a) if you have evidence that masks work under any conditions, why would that not extend to "field conditions"?

b) googling "mask use effectiveness study" shows that evidence exists, of various kinds, including observational data.

Some examples (there are more):
Article:
On the other hand, observational data show that regions or facilities with a higher percentage of the population wearing masks have better control of COVID-19 (79).

Article:
At present there is only limited and inconsistent scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.
The above is as of December 2020, via https://www.who.int/emergencies/dis...9/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks , which also features tutorial videos.

As of July 2020:
Article:

### Direct Epidemiological Evidence.​

Cochrane (7) and the World Health Organization (8) both point out that, for population health measures, we should not generally expect to be able to find controlled trials, due to logistical and ethical reasons, and should therefore instead seek a wider evidence base. This issue has been identified for studying community use of masks for COVID-19 in particular (9). Therefore, we should not be surprised to find that there is no RCT for the impact of masks on community transmission of any respiratory infection in a pandemic.

Only one observational study has directly analyzed the impact of mask use in the community on COVID-19 transmission. The study looked at the reduction of secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Beijing households by face mask use (10). It found that face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission, if they were used by all household members prior to symptoms occurring. The study did not look at the relative risk of different types of mask.

I have learned that claims of "there is no evidence" by conspiracy theorists are usually false.

c) why wait for "evidence" when you have indications that this can mitigate a lot of damage? It's not like Global Warming, where Big Oil and Coal have had vested interests in selling their products that topped our interest in saving the planet...

d) note that for surgical masks, the main effect is not self-protection, but protecting others. That's what they've been designed for.

"...it seems that most drivers are better than average."
Driving is the poster application of education to solve a safety issue.
Without mandatory driver's ed, roads would be a lot less safe.

"It found that face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission, if they were used by all household members prior to symptoms occurring." So, you support mandating mask-wearing at home? Before symptoms occur, which means always?

a) if you have evidence that masks work under any conditions, why would that not extend to "field conditions"?

So, if masks work, as used by Trained Professionals in a clean environment; we can extrapolate their effectiveness to every person in a Grocery Store? Or, any other place of Business? The VAST majority of people wearing masks are doing so incorrectly. No N95 have been spotted either. Note: I work around the public, and have done so; every day since last March. Anecdote is not evidence....

"It found that face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission, if they were used by all household members prior to symptoms occurring." So, you support mandating mask-wearing at home? Before symptoms occur, which means always?
The point of the study (if I understood it properly) is that if one household member gets infected, and they're already wearing the mask before the symptoms appear, that provides a large reduction in the chance to infect others in a close-contact, aerosol- and fomite-sharing situation.

So this is strong evidence that face masks inhibit the spread of infection in the pre-symptomatic phase under "field conditions", which is what you asked for. It's not perfect protection, which is why the usual precautions should still be taken on top of it.

I don't think it is practical to do this in the household, but I'd strongly consider it in circumstances where a member is at a higher risk to become infected, or at a higher risk to have a severe case of Covid-19 if infected.

The VAST majority of people wearing masks are doing so incorrectly.
I am sorry for the community you have to live in, then. It's really not that difficult to put a face mask on so that it covers nose and mouth, and I can't imagine a way to do so incorrectly that wouldn't be immediately obvious.
When I'm shopping, all the people I see do this correctly.

I would agree that N95 masks (FFP) are rarely worn by the public to actually provide the maximum protection that they can, but even an improperly fitted N95 mask should at least provide the same protection as a surgical mask.

Can someone provide a link to a research study, showing that masks protect? Genuinely eager to know. I am not interested in anecdotical stories etc.

So, if masks work, as used by Trained Professionals in a clean environment; we can extrapolate their effectiveness to every person in a Grocery Store?
You are still looking at this from the "I dont wanna wear a mask" perspective.

If you are looking at it from a perspective of someone who is responsible for the public health, it looks different. You don't want to learn in two years "well, if everyone had worn masks in public, we'd have saved thousands of lives" and get told "there were strong indications that masks would be effective, why didn't we do that". If they're effective, not mandating them kills people; if they're not effective, everyone is out some pocket change (figure out a way to let poor people have them) and not much worse.

If the evidence comes out later, the same conspiracy theorists will then say "the government knew all along and didn't do anything".

The pandemic is so incredibly polarizing because a lot of people are now visibly of the "I don't wanna" and "I dont care about your health" ethics variety, and that's very hard to bear for people who actually care about others.

Can someone provide a link to a research study, showing that masks protect? Genuinely eager to know. I am not interested in anecdotical stories etc.
What about post #20 doesn't meet your criteria (you may need to look up some citations), and why don't you simply do the google search I suggested there?

What about post #20 doesn't meet your criteria (you may need to look up some citations), and why don't you simply do the google search I suggested there?
I appreciate you pointing to it, thanks.

I can google search, but sorry, also very limited in time, therefore I kindly asked.

Can someone provide a link to a research study, showing that masks protect?
protect you or protect others?

I didn't make an animated GIF of the surgical mask, but that one is eye opening too.
Looks like it's safer to stand in front of a person wearing a surgical mask than next to one.

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Was sent this recently by a family member. Honestly I don't know what to think of all this.
About particle size, perhaps you've seen this meme as well.

That might apply to knitted or woven fabrics, but N95 respirators actually filter out the smallest particles more efficiently than 0.3 micron ones. They're tested using 0.3 micron particles because those are the hardest to filter out.

Article:

Filters do NOT act as sieves. One of the best tests of a filter’s performance involves measuring particle collection at its most penetrating particle size, which ensures better performance for larger and smaller particles.

How many people are wearing N95 respirators while they do their grocery shopping? That argument seems pretty irrelevant.

Indeed, "pore" size in the filter compared to particle size is not the only thing worth considering. A furnace air filter such as pictured below filters out a lot of dust particles that are WAY smaller than the openings in the material. They do not take out every single mote of dust, but it DOES remove enough of them to reduce significantly the damge dust might do inside the furnace. You don't have to filter the air to drop particles down to zero to be better than unfiltered air. Whether dealing with furnaces or lungs.

How many people are wearing N95 respirators while they do their grocery shopping? That argument seems pretty irrelevant.
It really, really depends on where you are.

I've traveled more than I would have liked to in the last year. I live in Northern Virginia, my parents live in Pittsburgh, and my wife's family is in Savannah and Atlanta. Here in NoVA, you see enormous amounts of people wearing masks and a substantial segment wearing N95s. In Pittsburgh, it is a mixed bag, but more people are than are not wearing some sort of face covering. In Atlanta, it is the inverse of Pittsburgh. In Savannah, sometimes my wife and I were the only persons wearing any sort of facial covering and we'd get dirty looks. I'm reluctant to wear an N95 because they trip my anxiety pretty bad and my wife is still uncomfortable taking them away from people that might need them more than we do, so we both sport our simple cloth masks.

Oddly, I'm more comfortable breathing through a big two stage respirator, but N95s make me feel very constricted and panicky.

How many people are wearing N95 respirators while they do their grocery shopping? That argument seems pretty irrelevant.
Some experts recommend upgrading to N95 masks to help fight the delta variant.

Makers of the mask brace say that surgical masks and N95 respirators "use the same meltblown material which ensures 95% filtration of small particles."

Source: https://youtu.be/Vd_5yU5uobA?t=47

Without a mask brace, the CDC recommends knotting and tucking to improve the fit of a surgical mask.

I don't think anyone is going to make the argument that a well-fitting N95 mask doesn't filter viruses better than anything else commonly available. The point is that very few people are wearing them in public. In the early days of the pandemic the use of N95 masks was actively discouraged due to supply concerns for healthcare workers but if that is no longer the case I don't see why the messaging on this hasn't really changed.

The point is that very few people are wearing them in public.

The point is that the whole world has to make a freaking move on with the vaccinations! Forget about the stupid masks.

The point is that the whole world has to make a freaking move on with the vaccinations! Forget about the stupid masks.
At the moment, where I live, about half the folks are not vaccinated, and are passing Delta around like Doritos at a Superb Owl party. So I am not down for forgetting about the masks just yet. If folks will get their innoculations, or enough of them get sick, and in some combination of that we get some herd immunity and the transmission rate drops, that would be the point where I'd start to think about moving away from the "belt and suspenders" approach of using the different protective measures, none of which are 100% effective on their own, to reduce as much as possible the chances that I will help spread the virus or be the guy who brings forth the next dangerous variant. My \$0.02.

Can someone provide a link to a research study, showing that masks protect? Genuinely eager to know. I am not interested in anecdotical stories etc.
Article:
Scientists conducted a randomized trial across 600 villages and more than 340,000 people in Bangladesh and found that even some adoption of surgical masks made a difference.
...
The preprint study was posted online Wednesday by the nonprofit organization Innovations for Poverty Action and is currently undergoing peer review.
...
Among the roughly 178,000 individuals who were encouraged to wear them, the scientists found that mask-wearing increased by almost 30 percent and that the change in behavior persisted for 10 weeks or more. After the program was instituted, the researchers reported an 11.9 percent decrease in symptomatic Covid symptoms and a 9.3 percent reduction in symptomatic seroprevalence, which indicates that the virus was detected in blood tests.
...
The scientists said masks significantly reduced symptomatic infections among older adults, and found that surgical masks were more effective than cloth versions.

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