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Common Myths & Misconceptions

There is much misinformation about the performance and problems from face coverings. The following attempts to debunk those myths and misconceptions.

Wearing of face coverings will harm your health by reduction in oxygen, increase in CO2, and weakening the immune system. "Click" for explanation why this is FALSE!

While tight fitting respirators can restrict breathing, the body will naturally adjust with a slight increase in respiration rate. Similarly, the body naturally seeks to maintain a relatively constant level of blood oxygenation and any restriction of breathing will cause a corresponding increase to heart rate as well. This is analogous to what happens when from a resting position, we go about our daily functions. Small increases in heart and respiration rates are only problematic for those with significant heart and respiratory disorders. Better PPE designs such as our ION Gaiter and ION Wrap use more breathable fabrics causing negligible increases in heart and respiration rates with no change in blood oxygen levels. See our data on physiological effects.

There is no scientific evidence that wearing of face coverings will diminish the immune system. Throughout the 24 hours of each day, most of which are times when there is no need to wear a face covering, we are constantly exposed to millions of microbes through breathing, eating, touching etc. Furthermore, devices to reduce exposure to airborne disease do not totally eliminate inhalation but rather reduce levels such that disease transmission and severity are reduced significantly giving the immune system time to develop natural immunity. Experts agree that well-designed face coverings are our most effective first-line defense against serious respiratory disease. When available, vaccines together with highly effective face coverings, provide the highest level of protection.

I heard gaiter-like designs are not deemed acceptable protection for air travel and other public venues. "Click" for explanation why this is FALSE!

Gaiters originally intended for UV protection and as warming garments for outdoor activities were not designed to be air filtering devices. With the shortage of N95 respirators it was recommended that any face covering is better than none. Subsequent testing of UV protection gaiters made from a single layer of stretchable fabric such as spandex or LYCRA® showed they provide very little protection and in most cases were inferior to surgical masks. As a result, a press release from CDC sources questioned these gaiter designs. That press release was later revised to acknowledge that there were in fact new gaiter designs with multiple layers that performed much better and that some gaiters could be a helpful source of protection. Not all multi-layer gaiters work the same. Our data shows that despite misleading claims of very high filtering efficiencies, some gaiters with filter inserts provide only 40% to 50% when tested under real use conditions, a level of protection comparable to cloth face masks but inferior to the N95. The design of our ION Gaiter with its 3 layers of breathable ionic fabric has been conclusively shown to outperform even the N95 respirators while providing better comfort and ease of fit. See our data comparing commercially available mask and gaiter designs.

Anti-microbial treatments designed to inhibit bacterial growth such as silver, copper and zinc infusions and carbon filter layers provide an additional level of protection. "Click" for explanation why this is FALSE!

Many new masks are constructed with fabrics infused with antimicrobial agents such as silver, zinc, copper and other chemicals. While such treatments may provide some inhibition of bacterial growth on the fabric surface over time, there is no evidence such treatments kill bacteria and virus during the short milli-second exposure times as breath passes through the fabric on its way to or out of the lungs. Given that laundering of reusable devices like the ION Gaiter is a very effective way to kill and remove captured microbes, the treatment of fabrics with toxic metals and the resulting impact to the environment, raises a question if such treatments are justified.

Special filter inserts placed into pockets in cloth masks and gaiters improve filtration efficiency. "Click" for explanation why this is FALSE!

In theory, the insertion of high efficiency, non-woven filter inserts such as PM2.5 filters should increase filtration efficiency. However, placing another layer of size-exclusion filter matrix inside the cloth layers further restricts the breathability of the mask such that more inhaled and exhaled air will take the path of least resistance and go around the mask periphery rather than through the filter. See our commercially available mask and gaiter designs.

Beware of cloth mask and gaiter designs with replaceable, filter inserts claiming >99% bacterial efficiencies that were determined under conditions of a perfect glue seal over a test apparatus. Our data shows that as worn in the workplace, the true, practical filtering efficiencies of such devices are in the range of 30% to 50%.

Claims of high efficiency filtration efficiencies using accepted conventional test methods provide an accurate indication of protection. "Click" for explanation why this is FALSE!

Beware of claims for high efficiency unless that efficiency is determined under conditions that represent how the device is realistically fitted and worn. Many mask and gaiter-like devices on the market since COVID-19 are not certified by the FDA or NIOSH but claim high filtration efficiencies >99%. This claim is determined under conditions of a “Perfect seal” around the periphery as is described in the FDA test method for determining bacterial filtration efficiency. For this test the mask periphery is sealed with glue so that air can only go through the filter material. Because a "Perfect seal" cannot be achieved in actual wear conditions, those claims significantly over-estimate filtration and give a false sense of security. Our testing of devices claiming >99% bacterial efficiencies shows that under practical fit conditions, the true efficiencies were in the range of 30% to 50%.