SARS Face Masks - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Monday, June 23, 2003

SARS Face Masks

I'm Dr. David Vastola and Patrick and I are getting ready to see a patient that was just in Toronto. He has respiratory symptoms and we're concerned about SARS: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and being concerned, we're going to wear our masks. But do they work? Let's take a closer look.

This is the usual type of surgical mask that's used in doctors' offices, hospitals and on television. You see it in China and Toronto but do they work? It turns out this type of mask will filter out a particle only of 100 microns. This virus is 3 microns, so therefore these type of masks don't work.

If you're going to protect yourself you need a special mask. This mask is called N95 and it's made of polypropylene. This will filter out any kind of particle that's up to 3 microns. Guess what? The SARS virus is 3 microns. The rhinovirus that causes colds is even smaller, so even this mask won't help.

If you're going to protect yourself and your family, look for the N95 because it has a hope of filtering out the virus. There's a better way, however: avoid the virus. Quarantine yourself away from people who are from those areas or better yet, don't go there.

And I'm Dr. David Vastola and that's life.

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