P100 respirators (and above) are the only face coverings that have a chance to protect you from COVID
My friend, Tyson Gabriel, is an expert on PPE. P100 respirators can greatly reduce your risk of getting COVID, but only for the wearer. AFAIK, no public health official ever talks about them. Why?
Note in the following text a “P100 mask” is a shortcut for “a respirator with a P100 filter screwed on to it.”
Stephen Petty and Tyson Gabriel are the smartest guys I know when it comes to industrial hygiene (mitigations including masks, HEPA filtration, etc). They always emphasize the hierarchy of controls and that the focus on PPE as the silver bullet is misplaced. PPE is the last line of defense, not something to weigh heavily in a proper mitigation effort.
Watch this video which points out that even properly fitted N95 masks will be <50% filtration of particles 1um in size (10X bigger than COVID) and for cloth masks 9.8% and surgical masks 12.4%. This is the most optimistic case. This is useless to protect against COVID because of what you are typically exposed to which is measured in orders of magnitude. What this means is that with any of these interventions, you’ll be exposed to slightly less viral load which means slightly slower onset of disease (delays maybe in hour best case (assuming a 10 hour doubling time). This is why all the clinical studies show 0 difference in the number of people infected. The only real solution is engineering controls, something the CDC never talks about.
If you want PPE that seriously works and would protect you against asbestos (which is much larger than the virus), you’re looking at a properly fit-tested Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) which has positive pressure. This advice is ignored.
I spoke to him today and here are the key things you should know about masks.
Cloth and surgical masks do absolutely nothing positive and N95 masks aren’t much better than that.
For example, the real world data from N95 and FFP2 masks show they make absolutely no difference; the graphs are stunning: the lines are on top of each other!!
All three mask types (cloth, surgical, and N95) are basically worse than no mask since 1) they lower your oxygen levels 2) can make you more likely to get infected with a respiratory virus, and 3) they actually increase the inhalation of virus (big droplets would fall to the floor from unmasked people, but for masked people they are instead they are aerosolized).
You can see the effectiveness against COVID here in this graph below which is from the highly acclaimed Bangladesh randomized trial done by Stanford and Yale. This is for purple cloth masks. As you can see, there is no difference. None. Nada. See Masks don’t work for more info on the two mask randomized trials.
If you really want serious protection, get yourself a 3M 6000 or 7000 series half-face mask. The 6000 is the older model and is heavier duty. The 7000 is newer and a lot more comfortable.
There are three sizes: small (7501), medium (7502), and large (7503).
Generally, you’d get the large size if you are 6 feet tall or over. Here’s the sizing chart:
The mask is sold without a filter. You’ll need a 3M brand P100 particulate filter, such as 3M 2091 to protect against COVID. For heavy-duty use, the 7093 filters are larger and more expensive, but more durable and last longer (you can wipe them down if they get dirty).
These masks make it easy to both inhale and exhale. They will truly protect you from the virus and they are much easier to breathe through than a cloth or surgical mask (they are designed to allow you to maintain suitable oxygen levels).These are serious products.
Due to federal law, the airlines won’t allow these masks to be used on planes because they protect you, but they don’t protect other passengers since they aren’t filtered for the exhaust. If they filtered the exhaust, your oxygen levels would fall to unsafe levels. In short, the airlines can’t let you protect yourself with legit protection. It’s illegal. That’s insane.
So on an airplane, you must wear a cloth or surgical mask that doesn’t protect you or anyone else. It is the filtration systems on airplanes that are responsible for the safety record of flights (people sitting right next to an infected person could still be infected). The FAA has never figured this out. They probably never will. They will likely require these useless masks for decades to come.
In short, the FAA is brain dead. If they followed the science, they would allow people to wear respirators, but only if they wanted to. These interventions should not be forced.
If you want a mask to protect you in other situations (or to protect grandma), the 3M respirators are the way to go.
What’s interesting is that everyone talks about protecting Grandma, yet nobody actually gives Grandma the protection she deserves.
The physics behind the N95 and P100 masks
You can watch this video to learn how these masks work.
In particular, this points out correctly that because of the way these masks work (which is to get particles to stick to the fibers rather than as a strainer), these masks can block very small and very large particles; it is the medium size particles that are the hardest to block.
But here’s the important caveat: it’s only true if the air isn’t moving. If it is moving with great force, then the momentum of these particles can overcome the electrostatic attraction. So take it with a grain of salt.
Nobody wears the P100 masks even though they are inexpensive and effective because nobody knows about them
Almost nobody wears these. I went through multiple airports and didn’t see a single person with a P100 mask.
If everyone wore them, nobody would have COVID. I think by suppressing this knowledge, they can keep the pandemic alive.
Check out this video from Rahoul Ahuja, MD on P100 masks. It was done a year ago.
He’s an internal medicine physician with just 242 subscribers on YouTube who has broken the code.
He posted this video on Feb 2, 2021. It’s now a year later and nobody has a clue about these masks.
His advice on the 7093 filters (at 10:25) is spot on. Those are the same ones I purchased.
Beware of bad advice: you cannot filter the output port
Dr. Ahuja’s advice in the video (at 6:30) on covering the exhalation port with a surgical mask is ludicrous. A surgical mask will not filter out the COVID virus and it will impede airflow and decrease oxygen levels inside the mask which is unsafe for the wearer. P100 masks are awesome, but his makeshift solution is wrong. Think of these as one way protection: for you only.
Respirators only work one-way: to protect the wearer
P100 masks are a one-way solution. They protect the wearer from other people; they do not protect other people from the wearer.
Why isn’t there filtration on the exhaust port? They weren’t designed for that. They were designed to protect the wearer. There is no need to protect the environment.
Anyone who wants protection can wear them. There is simply no need for two-way protection.
Can you design a mask for output-only filtering? For input-output filtering?
Can you design on an output filter port onto the 3M mask and have it work without making it unsafe to breathe? I don’t know. Tyson Gabriel didn’t know either. He was worried about oxygen levels inside the mask if the output port is restricted.
So if you had such a mask, you could just put on an output filter when visiting grandma or going on a plane, and use input filters to protect yourself, or use both in mixed situations.
But all of this is overkill.
See it in action
You can see a P100 in action here with a particle counter. Note, here they use the full facemask version which is overkill for COVID (the 750x series is recommended for COVID):
Why a P100 mask is over 160 times better than an N95 mask
Masks with P100 filters, when used properly, are well over 160 times more effective than an N95 mask for two reasons:
the filtration is 99.97% rather than 95% (so is a factor of 500/3=166 better)
the mask fits better so there is no air leakage due to the silicon rubber seals. The seal is critical. A perfectly fit N95 might provide better protection than a leaky P100. However, in general, the P100 masks nearly always provide a better fit due to the rubber seals conforming to your face. It is easy to test for leakage when you inhale and exhale as well on these respirators (just by blocking the input and output ports).
Is P100 good enough?
Each virus has a minimum number of virions that must be transmitted to cause disease. Once that threshold is exceeded, the more virions, the the faster the onset of disease and, generally, the worse the outcomes.
Therefore, the better the filtering, the better the outcomes.
Here’s a mask that supports 10,000X better filtration than an N95
The best mask I’m aware of is the MIRA CM-6M Tactical Gas Mask with Particle Max P3 Virus Filters. Made from ULPA filtration technology, a step above HEPA Rated to stop 99.9995%+ of viral and bio particulates. Only $240 for the mask and $150 for a set of 6 P3 filters.
Of course you may get strange looks at the grocery store.
The optional NBC-77 SOF CBRN Gas Mask Filter will protect against CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear) agents.
For COVID, all you need is the ParticleMax P3 Virus Filter which has the 99.9995% particle filter. With a six pack, you’d use one filter per day and rotate them out. This gives plenty of time for the virus to die between uses of the same filter.
Remember: they only protect you.
If everyone wore this mask for a week, we could potentially wipe out respiratory viruses worldwide (assuming the masks are properly fit and worn). That would never happen following the current advice from the CDC.
The mask and filters only work properly if you follow the rules
The most important thing is the fit. There must be a perfect seal.
Here are the precautions from the 3M datasheet to be aware of to maximize your protection.
"Please note that penetration of particles through the filter is only one of the possible sources of exposure to contaminants. Other potential sources such as face seal leakage, leakage as a result of improper maintenance, or not wearing the respirator when necessary may contribute more to exposure than filter penetration. Each of these factors must be addressed and controlled.”
"For example, all particulate respirators that are designed to seal to the face (including filtering facepiece respirators) can be fit tested using the saccharin or Bitrex™ qualitative fit test methods, or using appropriate quantitative fit test methods such as the ambient particle counting method using the TSI® PortaCount®. Wearers must be trained how to properly use and maintain their respirators and the importance of wearing them at all times during potential exposure.
"Please also note that respirators help reduce exposure to airborne contaminants but do not prevent the inhalation of all particles.
"As a result, when properly selected, used and maintained, respirators can lower exposures to concentrations considered safe for most non-biological particles.
"However, they do not eliminate the risk of exposure, infection, or illness since safe exposure levels have not been established for biological particles."
"In many countries, types or classes of respirators are given an "assigned protection factor," or APF. APF is the expected ability of the respirator to reduce exposure when used according to an effective respiratory protection program.
"For example, an APF of 10 means that a respirator may reduce exposure by a factor of 10 (or 90%) when properly selected, used, and maintained.
"Therefore, even if a filter could be hypothetically 100% efficient, the expected amount of exposure reduction would be limited by the APF.
"Because no respirator will prevent the inhalation of all particles, none can entirely eliminate the risk of exposure, infection, and illness."
Their final statement is exactly why neither OSHA, NIOSH nor the CDC have ever approved anything short of a Level A suit for the protection of persons from viral respiratory hazards. And indeed, when Tony Fauci made the statement regarding the ineffectiveness of masks at the beginning of the “pandemic” in March of 2020, he was stating US Government policy that has been in place for the last 50 years. However, because this is COVID, it is generally accepted among the authorities that we don’t need to follow the science anymore and can instead just trust whatever they tell us to do.
Respirators and FFP masks can be both collectors of respiratory pathogens as well as sources of airborne pathogens, especially when users are untrained and do no follow any proper respiratory hygiene.
Other risks include not wearing the respirator in accordance with training OR wearing a respirator with NO training. If you want to reduce your risk to near zero, consider the use of Level A suits.
Respiratory Protection (RP) is ONLY effective when used within the context of an effective RP program that includes medical surveillance, fit testing, training, sanitization, and personnel qualification.
Potential dangers of consumer masks they don’t disclose
With the issuance by the FDA of the mask EUA, the FDA waived all good manufacturing practices that have for decades protected RP users from exposure to harmful chemicals. In measurements performed on surgical masks purchased from Walmart, one of my readers detected massive levels of formaldehyde and VOCs in the masks themselves. He performed these measurements because he was trying to determine the source chronic nosebleeds he was having. Formaldehyde destroys the respiratory epithelium.
If schools were actually serious about protecting students
If a school seriously wanted to protect students from COVID or any other virus using masks (which is not the best way), they’d require all students to wear a respirator, e.g., the 3M 7502 respirators with the 2091 filters and proper training. And boy, our classrooms would look really silly since nobody would be able to talk to each other. If you remove the mask to speak or eat, it’s all over; the protection goes out the window. But our kids would be safe!
Here’s what all the kids would look like:
The point is this: if you want to wear a respirator, you should be free to wear one. And if you don’t want to wear one, you should never be forced to wear one. Never.
There is no societal reason for forcing me to wear a mask to protect others. It simply doesn’t work that way. A “safe” mask (one that allows sufficient oxygen to function properly and doesn’t increase the likelihood of a respiratory infection) ends up only protecting the wearer, never the public (since the exhaust must be unfiltered).
So mask mandates are completely nonsensical. Anyone who wants protection can put on a mask. Problem solved.
There are over 3,243 public health officers. AFAIK, none of them have figured out that P100 mask protect people.
If you want clear proof of how totally inept the public health officers in America are, you are reading the right article. I don’t know of a single public health official that realizes that the only way to stop COVID with a mask is using a P100 respirator.
Instead, they all mandate toy masks (cloth, surgical, and N95) that provide no protection from viruses.
Our public health system is truly messed up, there is no other way to put it.
The blind (the CDC) are leading the sheep (public health officers).
This isn’t just in the US. I don’t think they’ve figured this out in any country.
Even the P100 isn’t perfect, but it makes the N95 look like a joke
As noted above P100 respirator is well over 100X better than the typical N95 or surgical or cloth masks. But even then it isn’t perfect. Some virus particles will get through. Much of the time, the virus particles are attached to something bigger which is why most are stopped (you can’t just compare the size of an isolated virus particle to the filtration size).
See this 3M datasheet for details on using P100 masks to protect against viruses for more info.
In particular, pay attention to the part around where it says, “Because of the various mechanisms by which particulate filtration occurs, the smallest particles are typically not the most difficult to filter.” This is what you learned in the 5 minute video earlier in this article.
In short, really small particles are stopped efficiently (this is counter-intuitive), it is the particles that range in size from 0.05-0.5 μm that are very difficult, so these particles are filtered with lower efficiency.
However, also keep in mind that the virus is normally hijacking a ride on a bigger particle rather than being isolated. So for all these reasons, these masks work.
Are they perfect? No. But they are a hell of a lot better than the toy cloth masks and surgical masks and N95 masks that the CDC tells you to use.
PPE or source control? You can’t have it both ways.
What is interesting about all of this is you can’t have it both ways.
If health authorities want to protect the public, they should allow each person to wear PPE that protects them.
To mandate that I make an intervention that protects others at the risk of my own health is nonsensical. And that’s what we have today… the mask mandates (cloth, surgical, N95 masks without vent holes), do virtually nothing to protect me, but put my health at risk.
For anyone prominent on the pro-vax, pro-mask side who thinks that cloth, N95, or surgical masks are equivalent or superior to P100 respirators and wants to debate me, you know where to find me.