The Evolution of Face Masks

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face mask evolution

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has completely changed just about every facet of our lives, with the most prominent one being the addition of face masks in our daily lives. But as many people are already aware, this is not the first time that humans had to cover their mouths and noses to protect themselves from a deadly disease. So where did it start from?

The History of Face Masks

First, According to several sources, face masks were invented back in 1910, the year of the infamous Manchurian plague. Second, unlike previous plague epidemics that were transmitted through bites of infected fleas, this disease was spreading from one person to another directly. This discovery was made by a 32-year-old doctor named Wu Lien Teh, who was a graduate of The University of Cambridge, England.

And third, after performing a quick autopsy on a Manchurian plague victim, Wu discovered that the disease was being transmitted in the air through the tiny respiratory droplets from people’s breaths, after which he urged people to cover their faces with masks. He wrapped the health workers’ and gravediggers’ faces in layers of cotton and gauze to filter out the bacteria, and this formed the basis of the modern N95 respirator mask.

At first, several people, including some of the world’s most famous doctors, rejected Wu’s theories.  

However, soon they noticed and realized that he is right. Since then, masks became a crucial part of dealing with respiratory problems and pandemics.

The Masks as We Know Them

With the outbreaks of several infectious diseases such as the COVID-19 and the general rise in air pollution levels, these masks have continued to evolve for better protection against viruses and other germs.

The large scale use of masks became common during the SARS 2003 epidemic and later on, they became common in China in 2012 due to the rising smog levels. Masks models such as KN90 and N95 became widely popular as they could filter out fine particulate matter effectively.

These masks, along with social distancing and other SOPs, are currently are our only defense against the coronavirus disease, which is why we must wear them when stepping outside our homes.

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