Summer heat and masks: what you need to know

Coronavirus

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Since March, we have consistently been hearing, “Wear your mask” everywhere we travel in West Virginia and beyond. However, the heat and humidity is taking a toll on some people breathing through face coverings.

People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, sit on chairs whilst queuing to be screened and tested for COVID-19 in Eldorado Park outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

While summer weather is going strong throughout the Mountain State, those who can’t social distance while outdoors are dealing with the aftermath of our now-normal face coverings in these warm and muggy conditions.

“Predominantly, the most notable thing that you are going to see in hot and humid weather when you’re wearing a mask is that it does kind of seal in that sweat. It seals in that additional moisture that you’re getting from the atmosphere, and your own body moisture as you’re exhaling.”

Brenda Conch, Director of Education and Patient Care at the United Hospital Center in Bridgeport

Brenda Conch, the Director of Education and Patient Care at the United Hospital Center in Bridgeport says that moisture and sweat on the fabric of our everyday mask is just the thing which makes breathing normally through a face covering even more difficult as the day goes on.

Testing by the WVU Center for Inhalation Toxicology on the effectiveness of the gaiter face covering shown here found that it provides a respiratory containment of exhaled droplets comparable to a common over-the-ear cloth mask. WVU Photo/Dave Ryan

“It’s like you’re trying to breathe underwater when you have all of that water kind of on that mask. It is sealing up those nice little porous holes that allow that air to flow through and it makes the pull a little bit harder when you’re trying to breathe and take that inhale.”

Brenda Conch, Director of Education and Patient Care at the United Hospital Center in Bridgeport
(Getty Images)

These warm temperatures could also produce negative health benefits to anyone hyperventilating or having difficulty breathing while wearing a mask.

“I think hyperthermia would actually be an issue if you’re exercising and you’re not getting that good air exchange and you’re in that hot environment. I think that you could get a little bit of heat exhaustion from it.”

Brenda Conch, Director of Education and Patient Care at the United Hospital Center in Bridgeport

Conch suggests that if you’re outside for a long period of time, taking breaks in air-conditioned rooms are a key to keeping your body temperature and breathing regulated, among other things.

Pedestrians, some wearing protective face masks, walk through a street market in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, June 25, 2020. With Latin America now the epicenter of the new coronavirus pandemic, but with hundreds of millions relying on these markets for food and livelihoods, the debate now centers on whether and how they can ever operate safely. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

“Staying hydrated, making sure that you’re not wearing the mask more than you have to; just don’t wear it if you don’t need it. You really don’t need to jog in a mask.”

Brenda Conch, Director of Education and Patient Care at the United Hospital Center in Bridgeport

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