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New Study Shows How Much ‘Pathogenic’ Bacteria & Fungi are on Most People’s Masks

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently endorsed the CDC’s recommendation that Americans should mask in “schools, places of work,” and any place “that brings people together in a closed environment.”

Despite Dr. Fauci’s insistence that Americans continue to mask indefinitely — regardless of risk, vaccination status, or natural immunity — there is brand new research that demonstrates that such masking is not only statistically worthless, but actually harmful.

Scientific journal ‘Nature’ has published research showing that masks can harbor bacteria and fungi, in some cases harmful, even if one changes the mask daily.

One remarkable admission in the journal article is that the adverse health effects of mass public masking have not been extensively studied, despite masks being mandated in numerous countries to fight pandemics, such as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

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“Although the effectiveness of face masks against viral transmission has been extensively studied, the hygiene issues in mask usage remain unclear,” the ‘Scientific Reports’ study notes. “The standard mask usage is disposable non-woven masks. In some cases, however, people may use non-woven masks repeatedly or use different types of masks in different situations depending on their socioeconomic cultures.”

“For example, in Japan, the short supply of non-woven masks led to the repeated use of disposable non-woven masks and the use of other types of face masks, such as handmade masks and polyurethane masks,” the study adds. “Even after the shortage of mask supply has been resolved, some people have used disposable non-woven masks repeatedly or other types of face masks.”

“Among environmental pathogens, viruses cannot replicate without infecting host cells; most bacteria and fungi can survive and grow on various materials depending on the conditions,” the article states as background. “Bacteria and fungi are widely present on the surface of the materials used in our daily lives (e.g., currency notes and in public transportation systems), where we can detect pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Although a few studies reported bacterial or viral contamination on masks in experimental and clinical settings, there has been no study on what and how many both bacteria and fungi adhere to masks used daily in community setting bases; this is the neglected hygiene issue under the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Since masks can be a direct source of infection to the respiratory tract, digestive tract, and skin, it is crucial to maintain their hygiene to prevent bacterial and fungal infections that can exacerbate COVID-19,” the researchers note. “Thus, in this study, following a survey of 109 volunteers on their mask usage and lifestyles, we aimed to quantify and identify the bacteria and fungi attached to the face masks by culturing microbes isolated from the masks.”

The study points out that Japan had low viral transmission rates during the period under observation. However, Covid-19 cases have exploded in Japan despite nearly universal mask usage.

“Although the numbers of COVID-19 patients were relatively low in Japan during the study period, most people wore face masks in public places, and all survey participants wore face masks,” the researchers state before providing the results.

As can be seen below, the face side of the masks had significant bacterial colony counts, regardless of mask type, even after one day of usage. Fungi was more likely to grow on the outside of the masks.

The researchers listed the types of bacteria that were procured from the culture samples.

“To further determine the bacteria composing each colony, we conducted Gram staining and 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing,” the study states. “The 16S rRNA sequencing showed that the small white colonies consisted mainly of Staphylococcus epidermidis, and/or S. aureus; the major bacteria species forming the small yellow colonies was S. aureus. The large white colonies were the second most observed ones and consisted of B. subtilis, a component of natto (a Japanese fermented food). The medium white colonies consisted of B. cereus and B. simplexB. cereus was identified only on the outer-side of masks. Among the colonies, we also identified other bacterial species by 16S rRNA sequencing. Although most identified bacteria were non-pathogenic, there were several potential pathogenic bacteria in humans as follow: S. aureus (commensal bacterium, but its overgrowth can cause various diseases); B. cereus (intestinal bacterium, causing food poisoning); Staphylococcus saprophyticus (urinary tract infection); and Pseudomonas luteola (opportunistic pathogen).”

The bacterial classification is provided below.

The researchers also classified the fungi from the masks.

“After quantifying fungal colonies, we further incubated them for another 2 days at 37 °C to induce spore formation,” the study states. “Then, using lactophenol cotton blue staining, we identified fungi on the masks based on the colony morphology macroscopically as well as the hypha and spore morphology microscopically. Although we could not identify some fungi due to lack of spore formation, we identified 13 fungal genera. Among them, more than 20% of the participants had the four fungal genera, namely Cladosporium, Fonsecaea, Mucor, and Trichophyton, in common on both sides of the masks. The latter three are potentially pathogenic in humans.”

Although the ‘Scientific Reports’ study is not the first to ascertain that there are potentially harmful bacterial and fungal strains that grow on the prevalent types of masks used by the general public, it comes at a time when public health officials are again advising that people, including schoolchildren, again don masks in the statistically futile endeavor to “slow the spread.”

In June 2021, a University of Florida laboratory analysis of a sample of children’s masks suggests that masking young healthy persons may be harmful to their health. The results of a small sample of masks showed the presence of 11 dangerous pathogens, including the bacteria that cause pneumonia, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and meningitis. The results were shown by the group Rational Ground.

“A group of parents in Gainesville, FL, sent 6 face masks to a lab at the University of Florida, requesting an analysis of contaminants found on the masks after they had been worn,” Rational Ground said. “The resulting report found that five masks were contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and fungi, including three with dangerous pathogenic and pneumonia-causing bacteria. Although the test is capable of detecting viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, only one virus was found on one mask (alcelaphine herpesvirus 1).”

The analysis detected the following 11 pathogens on the masks:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia)
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis)
  • Neisseria meningitidis (meningitis, sepsis)
  • Acanthamoeba polyphaga (keratitis and granulomatous amebic encephalitis)
  • Acinetobacter baumanni (pneumonia, blood stream infections, meningitis, UTIs—resistant to antibiotics)
  • Escherichia coli (food poisoning)
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (causes Lyme disease)
  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae (diphtheria)
  • Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires’ disease)
  • Staphylococcus pyogenes serotype M3 (severe infections—high morbidity rates)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (meningitis, sepsis)

“Half of the masks were contaminated with one or more strains of pneumonia-causing bacteria,” the report added. “One-third were contaminated with one or more strains of meningitis-causing bacteria. One-third were contaminated with dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. In addition, less dangerous pathogens were identified, including pathogens that can cause fever, ulcers, acne, yeast infections, strep throat, periodontal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and more.”

The lab analysis conducted by the University of Florida’s Mass Spectrometry Research and Education Center studied six “new or freshly-laundered before wearing and had been worn for 5 to 8 hours, most during in-person schooling by children aged 6 through 11.” One mask was submitted by an adult for comparison. No pathogens were found on ‘control’ (unworn) masks.

It is now an indisputable fact that hygiene concerns about mass public masking were understudied, but public health officials nonetheless mandated them for millions of Americans, including schoolchildren. Furthermore, there is no statistically significant research that demonstrates conclusively that masking schoolchildren results in lower viral transmission rates.

In early July, a new study in pre-print publication at Research Square focuses on North Dakota schools, and conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California, University of California, Davis and Truth in Data, LLC, unpacked school mask mandate data demonstrating “no significant difference between student case rates while the districts had differing masking policies nor while they had the same mask policies.”

Indeed, the mask mandate-less West Fargo district had a lower spike than the mandated Fargo Public School District.

The CDC’s mask mandate was recently unpacked in research article entitled, “Revisiting Pediatric COVID-19 Cases in Counties With and Without School Mask Requirements—United States, July 1—October 20 2021.” The results were unfavorable for the CDC’s support of school mask mandates.

The researchers, Ambarish Chandra from the University of Toronto and Tracy Beth Høeg from the UC Cal-Davis, point out that there is “no significant difference between mask mandates and case rates.”

“Replicating the CDC study shows similar results; however, incorporating a larger sample and longer period showed no significant relationship between mask mandates and case rates,” the study notes. “These results persisted when using regression methods to control for differences across districts.”

The evidence is in: Mask mandates are not only statistically worthless and harm schoolchildren’s social, emotional, and academic development, but they also pose threats to their health.

If a public health official continues to dismiss such scientifically valid concerns and mandates that schoolchildren wear masks despite nearly zero mortality risk and the widespread prevalence of natural immunity, that official should be immediately challenged to defend putting children’s health at risk.




OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.