Breathing through the Vog

mask03-minDust, germs, viruses… These things are so tiny it is hard for our minds to comprehend.

But these little things can effect us in a big way. They can irritate our already overtaxed lungs and cause illnesses.

But what can we do about it? Well, besides living in a big plastic bubble… Lots of helpful little things. One of which is wearing a mask.

It’s interesting to walk around in one. (A medical mask that is. Not a Halloween or I party mask.) I mean, you see pictures of folks over in Asian countries wearing them all the time. Not so much over here.

Unless I’m in the hospital for pulmonary rehabilitation or some other reason. A mask usually gets a double take or a stare. The unspoken question in the other person’s eyes. “What do you have and are you safe to be around?”

I like to tell people that as far as I know lung transplants aren’t contagious. (I could be wrong though.)

When I’m out and about, I wear a simple disposable surgical mask like they gave me at the hospital. I wear it because it’s what my team of transplant doctors and surgeons directed me to wear.

Once upon a time… the team at Methodist Hospital recommended or at least were okay with, patients wearing Vogmasks. That wasn’t the case by the time I got there. They never specifically said not to were them, but they did strongly recommend not wearing them.

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Vogmask’s website claims that their masks offer “protection from airborne particles such as PM 0.3, PM 2.5, PM 10” Which means what to the layman exactly?

Well, PM stands for Particle matter. Which is measured in microns (better known as micrometers). Microns are basically a super small form of measurement.

Because, if you put every thing down in inches or centimeters, you’d have lots of super long numbers. And who wants to go crossed eyed looking at really long numbers all day?

However just to give you an idea of how teeny tiny these particles are that we’re talking about. I present the following really long boring numbers. Enjoy!

  • 10 micron = 0.0003937008″ inch (Pretty darn tiny)
  •  2.5 micron = 0.0000984253″ inch
  •  1.0 micron = 0.0000393701″ inch
  •  0.3 micron = 0.00001181103″ inch (Super tiny, but viruses are smaller.)

Then for a little comparison. Long boring numbers representing the tiny size of stuff we breath in, but really really don’t want to.

  • Virus: 0.1 – 0.004 microns = 0.000003937″ to 0.0000015748″ (Fits through Vogmask.)
  • Bacteria: 1 – 10 microns = 0.0000393701″ to 0.0003937008″ (Some squeeze though Vogmask some don’t.)
  • Mold: 1 – 100 micros = .0000393701″ to 0.0039370079″ (Stops most, but not all.)

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Now… Masks with a N99 filter (Such as the Vogmask.) are considered capable of filtering out 99% of airborne particles. However; that 1% is chock full tiny stuff that can make us sick.

The makers of Vogmask state Does not eliminate the risk of illness, diseases, or infection.” So… yeah, they themselves are not guaranteeing anything in terms of filtering germs.

None of this is to knock on Vogmask. If you have healthy lungs and live in a smog filled urban neighborhood. Maybe its just the thing for you. There just seems to be a bit of a cult following among people with lung diseases and honestly I don’t think Vogmask is deserving of it.

Just because someone loves their brand of mask, doesn’t mean its doing them a lick of good.Or that it will do you a bit of good either.

I get that folks worry about getting sick(er) once they find out they have a lung disease or after having  a lung transplant. And I’m not telling anyone not to use a Vogmask who wants to. I just want folks to be aware, that despite all the acclaim they get in support groups and chat rooms, they are not a guarantee to better pulmonary health.

Their masks are not on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) list of approved N99 particulate filtering masks. They’re also not on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of N95 mask. (Designed to protect the wearer from liquid and airborne particles.)

Now the reason my doctors recommended not using Vogmask, is a fear of bacterial growth. A paper mask wont stop that 1%  airborne particulates that slip through a Vogmask. But, once you’ve worn it for the day you pitch it and anything on it into the trash. A Vogmask is a little bit pricier so it makes sense to reuse.

However, if you don’t wash it… Creepy crawlies can start to grow on it and make you sick. If you do wash it, trapped moister can also lead to creepy crawly growth. So my doctors said to use the paper mask and pitch ’em. Maybe your doctors will tell you something different.

Personally, I would always suggest research and talking with your doctors about what you learn. All us folks here online may have good intentions, but we still aren’t the end all be all when it comes to your health. You are.

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