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Originally published April 29 2009

Myth Busted: N95 Masks Are Useless at Protecting Wearers from Swine Flu

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) When it comes to infectious disease, preparedness is good. But ill-informed preparedness is a waste of time and resources, and there's a lot of ill-informed preparedness going on right now with the swine flu.

Case in point: All those people buying N95 masks (respirators).

They think wearing a mask protects them from swine flu. The mainstream media perpetuates the myth, broadcasting images of people wearing the masks, all while talking about people "protecting themselves" from swine flu. If it wasn't a potentially life-and-death situation, it would all be quite hilarious.

But let me ask you a question: Have you ever had surgery or visited a surgery room? Did you ever notice that the surgeons and medical staff are all wearing surgical masks that are very similar to the N95 face masks being used by people afraid of swine flu?

Did you ever wonder WHY they are wearing those masks? Here's the question: Are they wearing those masks to protect themselves from the patient's germs? Of course not! They're wearing those masks to prevent their own germs from infecting the patient!

N95 masks, you see, have but one purpose: To prevent the wearer from infecting others. To use blunt medical terminology, they work by preventing snot, spit or other virus-carrying particles from becoming airborne. Thus, if the wearer sneezes, coughs, drools, spits or talks excitedly, his or her infected fluids will be trapped in the mask and will not infect others.

N95 masks have virtually no ability to protect the wearer from other people's airborne germs.

If it's not air-tight, it's not right!

This should be obvious by simply noticing that N95 masks are not air-tight! When you inhale while wearing such a face mask, the air you're inhaling enters through the gaps on the sides of the mask, completely bypassing the mask filtration system.

This is why -- duh! -- level 4 biohazard scientists don't waltz into their labs wearing N95 face masks. If they did, they would die. Since they don't want to die, they don't depend on N95 respirators.

So all those people planning on wearing N95 face masks are kidding themselves. That's what I mean about ill-informed preparedness. It's almost worse than no preparedness at all because it gives people a false sense of security.

I've gone to great lengths to put together honest, accurate information about preparedness strategies that really work. That information is provided in my "Swine Flu Advanced Preparedness Teleconference" found here: (Once the teleconference is over, the audio recording will be offered as a sensibly-priced download, by the way.)

In that teleconference, I emphasize why people need to invest in an air-tight face mask (also known as a "gas mask"), and I teach you how to quickly check to make sure it's air tight. It's a simple process known by anyone who has ever been in the military:

1) Put the face mask on and tighten the straps to a comfortable fit.

2) Inhale and hold your breath.

3) Now attempt to gently pry the facemask off your face using your hands.

If the facemask comes off easily, it wasn't an air-tight fit! If it's more difficult to pry off your face (due to suction), you most likely have an air-tight fit, and you can now move around safely in certain biohazard situations, depending on the rating of the gas mask. (This little test works even better if you can completely block the intake valves temporarily, creating true suction.)

Note that different gas mask filters (respirators) protect you from different things. Some protect you from airborne bacteria and viruses, while others protect you from chemical fumes. You need to know what you're buying and what it's rated for.

In my advanced preparedness teleconference, I recommend the brands and model numbers that actually work so that people can experience real swine flu protection rather than the illusion of being protected. Walking around with a piece of cloth on your face attached to your ears by rubber bands is a joke. It's sort of like wearing a big red sign that says, "I'm an idiot on infectious disease."

Consider this: If N95 masks actually worked to protect people from airborne biohazards, then the U.S. Army would issue low-cost N95 masks to soldiers instead of the far more expensive full-face gas masks they're issued today. The reason full-face gas masks are used by soldiers and biohazard researchers is because they keep you alive. If your goal is to stay alive, you probably don't want to use N95 masks.

This is one topic where bad information can get you killed. That's why I've jumped on this opportunity to teach people good information about infectious disease preparedness -- the kind of information most health experts don't know, and the high-level biohazard experts won't dare admit publicly. Learn more about the preparedness course here:

What the FDA says about N95 masks

By the way, even the FDA warns people about everything I've just told you here. I can't believe I'm quoting the FDA, but here's what they say about the ineffectiveness of N95 face masks: (

What you should know before using surgical masks and surgical N95 respirators

• The use of surgical masks and surgical N95 respirators alone will not fully protect you from acquiring an infection.

• Other infection control practices such as hand-washing, isolating infected patients, and practicing appropriate coughing etiquette, are also important to minimize your risk of infection.

• Surgical N95 respirators must be fit properly. A surgical N95 respirator that has not been fitted properly may leave unprotected gaps between the respirator and your face. These gaps will impair the respirator's effectiveness. Facial hair or unusual facial features make it difficult to fit surgical N95 respirators properly.

• Be aware that surgical masks are not fit-tested to your face and may leave unprotected gaps between the mask and your face.

• Be aware that masks lose their protective properties and must be changed when they become wet from saliva or respiratory secretions.

• Know that surgical masks and surgical N95 respirators are not tested against specific microorganisms and should not claim to prevent specific diseases.

• Never reuse surgical masks or surgical N95 respirators.

• Never wash or disinfect surgical masks or surgical N95 respirators.

• Never share surgical masks or surgical N95 respirators with others.

... in other words, N95 masks are all but useless at preventing swine flu infection.

There's a lot of preparedness B.S. from clueless "experts" on the 'net

There are a lot of people talking preparedness on the 'net, but few have any real-world experience with it.

I've actually owned and used a wide array of preparedness gear for many years. As someone who believes in prudent preparedness, I've been fully prepared against NBC attacks for well over a decade. (That's "Nuclear, Biological and Chemical" for those who aren't familiar with the terminology.) This topic is way beyond mere "natural health." This isn't just about anti-viral herbs and ointments. This is about understanding the whole dynamic of what happens in an outbreak: What the virus does, what the people do and what the government is likely to do.

Because, let's face it: In a pandemic outbreak situation, the virus itself is the least of your problems. You're far more likely to be killed by the actions or inactions of other people than by the virus itself. Why is that? I explain it all in the teleconference. There are basically three ways people die in such scenarios, and there are four areas of focus you need to address in order to reduce your chances of being harmed or killed in one of those three ways.

Protecting yourself from the virus is important, but it's not the whole picture. If that's all you do, you could still end up dead from a pandemic outbreak, even if you never get infected.

Highly-complex societies have never faced a global pandemic

You see, the one big factor that no one is talking about right now is the fact that modern civilization is far more complex and specialized than during any previous global outbreak. Our supply lines are longer; our populations are far more dense and our entire global infrastructure is far more interdependent than during any other outbreak.

This creates a hidden vulnerability to systemic failures that cascade from one sector to the next, conceivably impacting energy, transportation, water, emergency response, medical and even the executive branches of local and national governments.

The world has never suffered a pandemic during a time when such interdependencies were so incredibly complex. The halting international flights -- even for just a few days -- could wreak havoc on not just the global economy but also the functioning of cities in each isolated nation.

For the most part, people have not thought about these things. They stupidly believe cities run themselves, and water just magically appears at the tap, and food magically appears in the grocery store as it's needed. So they'll run around wearing N95 masks, too, thinking they're safe. But they aren't. They're more vulnerable than at any time in human history. They just don't realize it yet.

The bottom line on all this? This particular swine flu may or may not become "the big pandemic" of our time. But prudent people keep themselves in a state of vigilant preparedness to handle ANY infectious disease outbreak. Whether it's H1N1 swine flu is irrelevant. True survivors are always prepared, so to them, this particular outbreak is no big deal. When swine flu hit the news, for example, I didn't have to rush out and buy any preparedness gear at all -- I already have everything I need, and I'll have it for the next flu outbreak, too.

For those who really want to be prepared for infectious disease, here's where you can find details on my Swine Flu Advanced Preparedness Teleconference:

On the other hand, for those who really don't want to be prepared -- but who enjoy the illusion of preparedness -- here's where you can buy N95 face masks:

They're already sold out, by the way, having been purchased by clueless people who may discover too late that their N95 masks might just get them killed.

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