October 06, 2020
Face masks and covers should be replaced with a fresh one if they become damp – but not enough people know this. 
PSA: Face Masks Dont Work Very Well In The Rain
Scientists are urging the government to release a public health campaign letting people know their masks can be impacted by the wet weather. Because, put simply: having a wet mask reduces its effectiveness. 
After the recent bout of storms, Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, told The Times: “It would now be useful if clear advice were issued to the public. Masks need to be changed regularly and this is particularly important to understand in damp and wet weather.”Related... Lana Del Rey's Mesh Face Mask Has Not Gone Down Well Among Her Fans Disposable surgical masks, which many people wear, are particularly susceptible to the bad weather. Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert and professor in Medicine at University of East Anglia, previously told HuffPost UK they’re “essentially made out of paper”.In the centre of the masks is a material that’s better at trapping viruses, he explained, but if that gets wet, damaged or displaced, the mask becomes “useless”.
It’s important to remember your breath alone on the mask will be enough to slowly disintegrate it. A general rule of thumb is that they should be replaced after three hours regardless, said Prof Hunter.
Other masks such as the N95 mask, as well as cloth face coverings, are also more vulnerable in damp weather. Government guidance states a person must change their face covering “if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it”.
The World Health Organisation’s guidance on face masks also urges people to “replace masks as soon as they become damp with a new clean, dry mask”.
In the UK, face coverings aren’t mandatory outdoors – however some people put them on before leaving the house so they can wash their hands first, as guidance suggests.
People waiting for public transport at bus stops and train station platforms will also wear them, as will those shopping on outdoor high streets.
HuffPost UK asked the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) if there will be a public health campaign to let people know the wet weather can reduce the effectiveness of masks. We will update this piece if and when we hear back.
In the meantime, it’s best to take a few spare masks out with you, just in case.Related... Everything You Could Possibly Need To Know About Face Masks And Coverings Why Are Covid-19 Cases High, But Deaths Remain Quite Low? Here's How To Keep Yourself Safe In Covid Hotspots
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