Assessing the consequences of prolonged usage of disposable face masks

Sci Rep. 2022 Oct 7;12(1):16796. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-20692-9.


Due to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, wearing a disposable face mask has become a worldwide daily routine, not only for medical operators or specialized personnel, but also for common people. Notwithstanding the undeniable positive effect in reducing the risk of virus transmission, it is important to understand if a prolonged usage of the same face mask can have effectiveness on filtering capability and potential health consequences. To this aim, we present three investigations. A survey, carried out in central Italy, offers an overview of the distorted public awareness of face mask usage. A functional study shows how prolonged wearing leads to substantial drops in humid air filtration efficiency. Finally, a morphological analysis reports the proliferation of fungal or bacteria colonies inside an improperly used mask. Our study highlights therefore that wearing a face mask is really beneficial only if it is used correctly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Filtration
  • Humans
  • Masks* / adverse effects
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires